Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Recently, the United States House of Representatives passed legislation that eliminates funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS). If the funding bill becomes law, these cuts threaten to have a dramatic effect on the quality of life for local seniors, and all who benefit from their service. CNCS administers many volunteer service programs, including the Foster Grandparent Program, the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, and the Senior Companion Program (collectively the "Senior Corps") as well as AmeriCorps, VISTA and Learn and Serve America.
As the program coordinator of the Central Minnesota Foster Grandparent Program, I am writing in support of the dedicated service of more than 200 foster grandparents throughout Central Minnesota, whose ability to serve our communities will be at risk if this legislation is enacted.
The Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) is a nation-wide program that connects older volunteers with opportunities to provide one-on-one mentoring, nurturing and support to children with special needs, exceptional needs, or who are academically, socially or financially disadvantaged. In turn, Foster Grandparent volunteers derive significant emotional and health benefits from their service, which can improve their quality of life and provide them with a strong sense of purpose.
Locally, foster grandparents volunteer in schools, after-school programs and other community organizations. They provide services at a fraction of the cost it would be to have a paid staff member in their role. Last year the volunteers in central Minnesota mentored more than 8,000 students, one-third of whom had special needs.
Foster Grandparents may serve 15 to 40 hours a week, and receive a small stipend to defray the cost of volunteering on low-income individuals. Locally, 94 percent of our foster grandparents are living at 200 percent of the poverty level or below. For many, their modest volunteer stipend ensures that they have enough money to live on each month. Eliminating the federal funding for CNCS and thus our program will only create the need to spend big in other ways that we have yet to realize.
Help protect the dedicated work of foster grandparents and other national service volunteers by contacting Senator Franken and Senator Klobuchar. Ask them to pass a Continuing Resolution that restores funding for CNCS. We cannot afford to lose the cost-effective and critical contributions of more than 1.5 million volunteers nationwide.
Central MN Foster