The Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) is over 50 years old nationally and over 30 years old locally. The South East Texas Foster Grandparent Program (SETXFGP) started in 1989 after discussions between James Martin, chief juvenile probation officer for Jefferson County, Roxanne Smith Parks, current director of Area Agency on Aging, and Don Kelly, former executive director of the SETRPC. They went on to write a grant that would enable 10 volunteers to mentor adolescents confined in the Juvenile Detention Facility. This would give new purpose to the lives of seniors and hopefully a sense of stability in an otherwise unstable situation. So, it began, one volunteer, one site. Over 30 years later we are 69 members strong and growing serving 26 plus sites. The SETXFGP has spent the years helping to develop a community of care for the children of Southeast Texas by supporting older Americans in becoming an integral part of the process, there by being part of a solution. We whole heartily believe in the notion that “it takes a village to raise a child”.
The AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparents provides a way for limited-income people age 55 and older to serve as extended family members to children and youth with exceptional needs. Foster Grandparents serve from 15 to 40 hours a week in schools, hospitals, correctional institutions, day-care facilities, and Head Start centers. They help children who have been abused or neglected, mentor troubled teenagers and young mothers, and care for premature infants and children with physical disabilities. In return for their service, Foster Grandparents receive a non-taxable stipend of $3.00 an hour, accident and liability insurance and meals (at most sites) while on duty, reimbursement for transportation, and monthly training. Nationally, more than 200,000 AmeriCorps Seniors Foster Grandparents tend to the needs of young children and teenagers each year by providing 1.6 billion service hours.