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Tom Harkin's Blog

Story County - Mid Iowa Foster Grandparent Program

Lois Rowe, Mary Jo Browning and Helen Helgeland shared their stories about the Foster Grandparent Program and their concerns regarding the program during the current economic downturn. The Foster Grandparent Program assists many kids with disabilities that may need additional help in the classroom. The program also assists grandparent volunteers who may be disabled, allowing them to fully participate as well.

Left to right - Michale Hansen Hannah Mary Jo Browning Helen Helgeland Jarred Julie Bonamarte Lois

All three women agreed the reason they started with the program was not for the money, but rather to experience the connection with children only a community elder can have. The group talked about how grateful they are that they can help provide stability to children with open arms and no judgment. They feel their presence in the classroom provides a calming nature and see their role as “filling the gaps” that exist in today’s education system. With more and more teachers being required to focus on paperwork and other administrative tasks, Foster Grandparents help give students the much needed “one-on-one” attention.

The women also shared examples of how the Foster Grandparents serve as the main reading programs in neighboring districts.

The dedication of these women to the program is very evident. The program requires a minimum of 15 hours per week, but most easily surpass that and reach 40 hours per week.


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