The Round Valley Indian Tribes’ Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) engages our elders age 55 and over in volunteer service as tutors and mentors for children with identified needs. Foster Grandparents serve from 15-40 hours per week and a minimum 1,044 hours per year per volunteer. Volunteers must meet income eligibility requirements at no more than 200% of the current federal poverty guidelines
The program provides a small tax-free stipend of $2.65 per hour as an incentive to volunteer so that the costs for tutoring and mentoring aren’t at the expense of the elder. In addition to the hourly stipends, our program provides mileage reimbursement, vacation & sick leave time, and other related benefits.
FGP provides service to two often disenfranchised populations: low-income, older adults and special needs, often at-risk, youth. Older adult program participants must be at least 55 years of age and currently our oldest volunteer is 76. Youth must have an identified need and cannot be over age 21, unless they are severely challenged and have been placed with one specific volunteer for an extended period. The Foster Grandparent (FG) may continue providing service to that child over age 21 as long as the volunteer continues in the program.
FG volunteers develop a one-to-one relationship with two to four exceptional children that have been referred by local pre-schools, Head Start Centers, elementary schools, and our tribal court. FG’s provide their service of experienced academic learning and individualized tender loving care and friendship. Many FG’s provide the only stable loving presence in a young person’s life. FG’s bring an openness and sensitivity to the challenges of helping troubled children.
America needs its older generation now more than ever. There are so many troubled youth in our country, as new challenges emerge that jeopardize the health and happiness of young Americans, Foster Grandparents will be there, helping children to realize their full potential. The value of their contribution to the lives of our young people – and to the future of our nation – is incalculable.
Founded in 1965, federally funded Foster Grandparent Program was part of the war on poverty programs implemented during the Johnson administration.
The Round Valley Indian Tribes have sponsored the program since the fall of 2015, with our first volunteers starting in the spring of 2016. FGP provides additional income and community involvement for low-income older adults.
The Round Valley Indian Tribes have a FGP continuation grant with the Corporation for National and Community Service. For FGP, grants are written for a 3-year grant cycle and funded annually. Currently we receive $89,640 in federal dollars. This does not include local support in cash and in-kind. Annually we bring in $12,625 in in-kind. Our second fiscal year is anticipating $108,000 in federal dollars and $13,463 in in-kind funding, for an overall increase of 19%.
Although we can easily quantify the monetary value of the grant funding, the investment by the Round Valley Indian Tribes and the Corporation for National and Community Service to provide the Foster Grandparent Program to the Round Valley community is priceless. We anticipate this to be a long-term program that will improve the lives of hundreds of elder volunteers and thousands of needy children.
This program serves two populations: low-income, older adults and special needs, at-risk children. The number served varies annually depending on how many children teachers assign the FG volunteers to tutor and mentor and how many FG volunteers are funded in the grant. Sometimes children have more needs than other and require more one-on-one attention and support.
With an anticipated 18 Foster Grandparents, we expect to assign up to 4 youth each for a total of 72 children in the Round Valley community impacted annually.
Youth and seniors would be very different without the program. The program provides a model for successful aging for older adults. It encourages them to get up and get out in the community to assist children. The socialization provided has been proven to benefit older adults.
Teachers state emphatically that the extra attention provided to the children is often the reason they are able to promote to the next grade level by the end of the academic year. In addition these children gain self-esteem, self-confidence and improvements are often viewed in self-control and behavior modification. Many children learn to read because they have someone to read to who can encourage them to try harder and achieve to their best ability.
The Round Valley Indian Tribes have recognized that there is a serious generational gap between our elders and youth. It is our goal to foster the relationship between the elders and youth to increase overall academic achievement for youth in pre-school to 12th grades. Through cultural enrichment programs, academic tutoring, mentoring, and social wellness our elders will be able to promote the importance of education to prevent juvenile delinquency, poverty, and alcohol/drug abuse.