Foster Grandparents Program
The Illinois Department on Aging (IDOA) recognized older workers and their employers during the 26th Annual Older Workers Awards Luncheon held in Springfield. Each year, IDOA hosts this event in conjunction with National Employ the Older Worker Week to honor older workers who continue to play a very important role in the Illinois workforce. Of over 300 state applicants, two of UCAN's most exceptional Foster Grandparent volunteers were awarded with the 2010 Older Employee of the Year Award! UCAN is honored to have these volunteers as Foster Grandparents. Congratulations Ms. Betty Carlson and Ms. Connie O'Rourke for winning this award!
Betty and Connie are part of UCAN's Foster Grandparent Program, which serves children who live in limited income communities or who suffer from mental and physical challenges. These children often need special care to grow, gain confidence, and thrive. Teachers and parents have many pressing demands on their limited time and cannot always provide the children with the intense and specialized attention they might need to succeed - this is where Foster Grandparents can help.
Senior volunteers who work as foster grandparents offer friendship, education, wisdom, assistance and one-on-one mentorship to their young mentees. Many of these youth are experiencing environmental issues at home that often interfere with their learning. The volunteers provide them with basic human nurturing and make sure that their basic needs are met. They also work to ensure the youth get the help they need with their schoolwork, teaching these young children everything from social skills to the alphabet - just as a biological grandparent would care for their grandchild. The volunteers are greatly appreciated, not only by the children they help every day, but also by the organizations they serve such as schools, day care centers, rehabilitation centers and Headstart programs which work with children to prepare them for kindergarten.
"The schools really love having our Foster Grandparents involved with their students. Some kids need special attention and our program is able to provide that one-on-one experience for students," says Tracee Marion, UCAN's Director of Foster Grandparents.
Our foster grandparents spend 15-40 hours per week helping children on a one-on-one basis, generally in a school setting, providing support to at-risk children who are pre-school or school-aged. As mentors they also assist with homework, listen to the children, provide emotional support and offer praise along with feedback and positive reinforcement. Often we see our foster grandparents becoming true role models for the children they assist.
A relationship with a foster grandparent has huge benefits for the child. At the same time, it also provides significant benefits to the senior volunteer. The volunteers experience the satisfaction of helping youngsters grow, mature and prepare for successful and self-sufficient futures.
Benefits of being a foster parent include:
- The satisfaction of making a difference in a child's life
- A small tax-free stipend
- Transportation assistance or reimbursement to/from volunteer stations
- Paid holidays, sick leave and vacation days
- Free lunches on work days
- Formal and informal recognition events
We are always looking for Foster Grandparents, particularly in Lake and McHenry County.
Are you interested in becoming a Foster Grandparent?
Cook County: Foster grandparents work in 28 volunteer stations in Chicago Heights, Ford Heights, Riverdale, Harvey, Markham, Robins, Matteson, Richton Park, Calumet City, Maywood, Bellwood, Oak Park, Olympia Fields and Park Forest. For more information, please contact Tracee Marion at 773-429-0300, ext. 69335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lake and McHenry counties: Our Foster Grandparent program has recently expanded to cover these areas. For more information, please contact Lourdes Vazquez at email@example.com or at 773-243-7402.
For a downloadable brochure, please click here.
To view the press release on the 26th Annual Older Workers Awards Luncheon, please click here.