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Volunteer slots open for local foster grandparents

February 27, 2018 GMT

COLUMBUS – Debbie Kramer-Reynolds knows adults 55 and older can share a lifetime of valuable experience when they step into a community’s local schools, preschools and non-profit day care centers to help mentor the young.

The Hastings woman is now recruiting in Platte County to fill slots for Foster Grandparents openings that aim to volunteer some help to harried teachers and para-educators while enhancing the academic lives of local children.

The volunteer grandparents, who take their directions from class teachers, can help rock, feed and play with babies. They may help preschool children learn colors and shapes and develop fine and gross motor skills. A volunteer could also tutor older children in reading and other subjects in elementary school.

The volunteers are there to support school readiness and the academic achievement of children, said Kramer-Reynolds, the coordinator the program.

“They can help out with lessons, such as reading, math and social skills,” Kramer-Reynolds said. “They can also be a person (for kids) to look up to during the day in school.”

Foster Grandparents is a national Senior Corps program established in 1965 for the purpose of pairing senior citizens with at-risk children.

The Hastings-based program serves Platte, Adams, Buffalo, Clay, Custer, Dawson, Hall, Hamilton, Howard, Kearney, Merrick, Nance, Nuckolls, Sherman and Webster counties.

The last time Columbus had a foster grandparent in the schools was in 2016 with a program mentor at Lost Creek Elementary School.

Kramer-Reynolds said the program has about 10 openings from foster grandparent volunteers. All volunteers receive ongoing training, recognition and supervision. The program’s next training session gets underway March 9.

Foster Grandparent volunteers who commit to a minimum of 15 hours a week and meet income guidelines can receive a stipend. Lower-income seniors can earn up to $48,000 annually to be eligible to receive a tax-free stipend for their service.

The stipend is $2.65 an hour, plus mileage reimbursement to and from the school, preschool or non-profit day care sites, Kramer-Reynolds said. Volunteers can commit to up to 40 hours a week, she said.

For more information on how to become a Foster Grandparent volunteer, call 1-888-456-7859.