Still Crazy Good After All These Years!
2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Foster Grandparent Program. The belief that inspired its founding in 1965 could not be truer today. Namely, that low income elders have extraordinary gifts to share with vulnerable children in a wide variety of settings across America.
The social, emotional and academic support offered by loving volunteers has transformed the lives of both the children and volunteers. This simple, cost effective formula has stood the test of time, having weathered winds of political change to emerge in 2015 as a trustworthy and relevant model to serve at risk children for the next 50 years.
The Foster Grandparent Program was developed by Sargent Shriver as part of Lyndon Johnson's "War on Poverty." Shriver, who served as Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity under the Johnson Administration, said of the Foster Grandparent Program on its 35th anniversary: "We did not have to do any studies before we started Foster Grandparents. One day I visited children with intellectual disabilities in an institution and saw that they needed more attention - attention that the staff could not give them. These children needed to be held, to be read to, to have someone play games with them. Later that day I visited a Senior Citizens Center. They needed something to do, somebody to shower their affection upon, somebody to help." Shriver was determined to bring these two groups of people together and because of his vision, the truly unique Foster Grandparent Program was born.*
What makes FGP so effective and unique? Below is a partial list of reasons cited by Foster Grandparent Directors at the Senior Corps National Conference in San Antonio in May, 2014.
Whatever the future winds of change may bring, FGP will remain strong if it demonstrates both flexibility to new ideas, while holding fast to the tried and true principle of the life changing bond between Foster Grandparent and child. As the founding visionary, Sargent Shriver, said, "Foster Grandparents work for two reasons - it's about human relationships and it is simple." Amen!
The Foster Grandparent Program was initiated under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964.
The Foster Grandparent Program was designated as a volunteer program of the Administration of Aging by Title VI of the Older American Act.
FGP became a program of the national volunteer agency, ACTION.
FGP was designated as one of ACTION's Older American Volunteer Programs (OAVP) by Title II of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act.
FGP became part of Senior Corps under Corporation for National and Community Service.
* Shriver documentation courtesy of NAFGPD