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Letter to the Editor: Foster Grandparent Program delivers benefits

To the editor:

The mission of the Foster Grandparent Program is to purposefully align senior volunteers with children who have special or exceptional needs. Since 1965, Foster Grandparents have been placed in non-profit settings with children creating intergenerational bonds with on-site children and staff. The different generations work together toward positive outcomes for all involved.

Students assisted by Central MN Foster Grandparents make progress. During the 2017-18 school year, 93 percent of school-aged children increased academic engagement, 98 percent demonstrated improved math and/or literacy skills, and 94 percent of children improved school readiness and social-emotional development goals. Young learners know they go to "Grandma" or "Grandpa" for specific tasks, and they get encouragement. Teachers directly supervise students with Foster Grandparents who are used to enhance classroom experiences. FGP volunteers contribute to their communities; they're recognized as positive role models for our future adult citizens.

It's not coincidental that Foster Grandparents report improved health and well-being. Volunteering offers less isolation, increased activity, added purpose, and FGP benefits include continued learning, a stipend plus travel reimbursement, and school meals plus more! Most importantly, they feel the joy of giving. Do you know that aging doesn't automatically equal declining health? Physical and/or mental health challenges can stem from a variety of changes in life. Poor diet, stress, isolation, financial struggles and less activity are among negative contributors.

Schools/sites receive caring, consistent, affordable classroom workers who both students and teachers need and rely on. Possibilities for precarious learning and social-emotional gaps are lessened for children when Foster Grandparents are present in classrooms. In turn, Foster Grandparents receive amazing benefits.

Individual lives, classrooms, and communities are improved. Mission accomplished!

Best regards from the Central MN FGP, Catholic Charities of St. Cloud, MN Senior Corps, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. We appreciate your support!

Pat Scherf, Area Supervisor

Foster Grandparent Program

Osakis, MN