From the start of each school year, between 50 and 60 foster grandparents are out in schools, day cares and Head Start centers throughout Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Tioga counties.
However, with schools now implementing state guided precautions due to COVID-19, the Foster Grandparent program is looking a little different with the new school year.
The program is provided by the B/S/S/T Area Agency on Aging, and utilizes volunteers ages 55 or older serve as “grandpas” or “grandmas” to more than 200 students with special or exceptional needs in these educational programs.
Because of COVID-19, these volunteers – who are fewer in number – are continuing this service remotely and virtually, whether it’s through making take-home activities and distance learning packets for students, helping with student meal preparation or delivery, providing tutoring and mentoring by phone or virtually, creating video demonstrations for different life skills, calling to check in with students and their caregivers, and reading to student over the phone or virtually.
“The foster grandparents will miss seeing the children they serve,” Area Agency on Aging officials said.
The Foster Grandparent Program is funded federally through the Corporation of National Community Services, and more locally through the United Ways of Bradford County, Susquehanna County, Lycoming County – Tioga Fund, and the Tioga Downs Regional Community Foundation.