PENINSULA - Many children don't have a grandparent nearby to share a story, and likewise, many grandparents don't live close enough to be able to contribute to their grandchildren's lives. That's why the Foster Grandparents Program seeks to match adults, age 60 and older, with school-age children. The program, which currently operates in the Long Beach area, seeks to put the life experience of the older adults in classroom and non-profit settings as a mentor and positive role model for children, and receive some compensation in return.

Foster grandparents must be age 60, or older, and have an income that does not exceed $1,915 per month for a person living alone, or $2,567 for a couple. In return for serving in a classroom or non-profit agency, the foster grandparent receives a tax-free stipend of $2.65 per hour that does not affect Social Security, SSI, housing subsidies or any other assistance received.

The job description of a foster grandparent includes the ability to listen, encourage, and provide one-on-one support to children in a learning environment.

"My favorite part of being a foster grandparent is watching children grow and gain self-esteem as they learn to read and overcome learning difficulties. You can see the difference in their little faces. The one-on-one with children really makes a difference, and that means a lot to me," says a current foster grandparent. Classroom teachers say that for the children who need a one-on-one relationship to succeed, the presence of a foster grandparent in the classroom is invaluable. Typically, a foster grandparent serves 20, or more, hours per week in the classroom, so they are able to develop a critical, trusting bond with the children.

Currently there are openings at ECEAP, Headstart and Long Beach Elementary. Contact the Foster Grandparents Program at 360-750-7500 ext 139 or by emailing Claudia Dalton at (Claudia.dalton@esd112.org).

Foster Grandparents is a program of Educational Service District 112, which enables school districts to concentrate more time, money and energy on student learning. Headquartered in Vancouver, ESD 112 provides local and regional cooperative programs and services to school districts and communities in the six counties of Southwest Washington.

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