With a stipend and the opportunity to make positive progress among young students, the foster grandparent program in Wyoming is described by program director, Jean Brown, as a win-win-win.
“The grandparent gets some non-taxable income and a high-quality experience, they and the students get the feelings of being productive and the school benefits as well,” she said. “They build relationships with the students and they may turn out to be a very big part of their lives.”
Brown pointed out an example that saw a former foster grandparent help a child in the Head-Start program who wasn’t able to talk. This same student later sang with her class at graduation.
“That probably wouldn’t have happened without the grandparent,” she added.
In another example a grandparent from the second grade made such an impact that they were life-long friends and invited to the wedding of their student.
Foster grandparents match limited income seniors with children in schools or non-profit settings that have identified needs. The grandparent receives a non-taxable stipend that does not affect other benefits such as social security or low-income housing. In addition, the program will pay mileage, holiday pay, provide a noon meal and offers three kinds of insurance for those seniors driving to and from the school.
Brown emphasized that to be a part of the program, the prospective grandparent needs to meet income guidelines and be able to work at least 20 hours per week. They also must be fingerprinted for safety and security reasons in accordance with state regulations regarding all regular volunteers. They also must be 55 years of age or older.
“We see increased test scores on math and reading or whatever the teacher has assigned to the grandparent Brown added. They may come for the chance to earn a little money and be productive, but they stay for the kids.”
For more information about the Wyoming Foster Grandparent program based in Laramie, call 1-800-676-1909 ext. 547