Foster Grandparent Program (FGP)
The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) supplements a similar program supported by the Federal Government through the Corporation for National Service. FGP provides an opportunity for low-income older persons aged 55 and over to serve as mentors, tutors, and caregivers for children and youth with special needs. The program is designed to provide meaningful volunteer roles for older adults. Foster Grandparents serve a minimum of 15 hours per week, providing support to special needs children aged birth to 21 years in a wide variety of community sites. In SFY 2014-15, New York State appropriated $98,000 for the Foster Grandparent program.
Foster Grandparents offer emotional support to children who have been abused and neglected, mentor troubled teenagers and young mothers, and care for premature infants and children with physical challenges. In the process, they strengthen communities by providing caring services that community budgets are unable to financially support and by nurturing a bond across generations. Foster Grandparents provide from 15-40 hours of weekly service to community organizations such as Head Start, hospitals, public schools, day care centers, and juvenile detention centers. The program provides volunteers with the following:
- Tax-free stipend for those that meet low income eligibility guidelines; persons aged 60 or older with incomes that exceed eligibility guidelines may be enrolled in FGP projects as "non-stipend Foster Grandparents" under certain conditions,
- Monthly limited transportation reimbursement,
- Limited reimbursement for physical exams,
- Accident insurance,
- Vacation and sick leave,
- Recognition, such as luncheons, trips, and small tokens of appreciation,
- Training, speakers, and workshops, and
- The opportunity to meet other seniors and help the community.
According to Dr. Erwin Tan, Director of Senior Corps at the Corporation for National and Community Service, along with delivering enormous social and economic benefit to communities nationwide, volunteer service also allows older Americans to remain active and healthy, an outcome that is critical as our nation strives to lower health care costs in times of budget constraints. More than two decades of research establishes a strong relationship between volunteering and health, and we are seeing that those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression and disease later in life than those who do not volunteer.