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Big Brother & Big Sister Programs

The Foster Grandparent Program was developed in 1965 as a cooperative effort between the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Department of Health Education and Welfare (HEW) in Washington, D.C. The Foster Grandparent Program moved to the Lake Area in the fall of 1999. Its purpose is to enable low-income senior citizens to supplement their income in a meaningful way by providing volunteer service to special-needs children. The program is funded by a federal grant through the Corporation for National and Community Service and is sponsored by Big Brothers Big Sisters of SWLA.

We currently have 71 active senior citizens in the program volunteering in 1 daycare, 1 head start program, 13 elementary schools and 1 after school program in Calcasieu and Jeff Davis Parishes. One of our Foster Grandparents is also a child advocate for CASA. They receive a small stipend and can work up to 20 hours per week.

The Foster Grandparents work with children one-on-one, helping those who are struggling with reading and math with the intention of helping them to reach grade level by grade three and to reach the “Above Basic” level on Leap iLeap standardized tests. Along with the practical hands on work, the grandparents also help to boost the self-esteem and self-confidence of the children that they are working with by continually praising their efforts and accomplishments, no matter how small that effort or accomplishment might be. For many of the children they work with, this praise may be the only praise they receive throughout their day, with the exception of their teacher’s.

Helping children reach their full potential and eventually realize their dreams is the goal of our teachers and parents. The Foster Grandparents work beside these people and give the extra support and help that some children desperately need. For a child that is struggling to learn, what a wonderful thing it is for them to have a foster grandparent to sit with them while they work, not to judge but to encourage and help them to strive.

Visit the Corporation for National and Community Service website at to read more about the Foster Grandparent Program.


To connect the generations. To provide volunteer service that addresses community needs. To create meaningful relationships with special needs children by providing love, encouragement and companionship on a one-to-one basis. To provide extra care and attention to special needs children in order to improve their physical, mental,emotional and social developement so they may grow to reach their maximum potential and become as independent as possible. To serve children in school, day care, Head Start and institutional settings.

Age 55 years or older and a Parish resident. Annual income falls within federally established guidelines. Willing and able to volunteer with children on average of 20 hours per week. Health, as determined by physical examination, must be adequate to meet the demands of the position without detriment to self or the children served.

Sincere interest in special and exceptional needs children. Provide supportive relationships and friendships. Provide love and encouragement. Serve as non-threatening adult. Offer guidance. A good listener. Sensitive to children's feelings and needs. Foster independence. Provide stability, emotional support and companionship on a one-to-one basis. Maintain confidentiality. Able to set limits witth children. Must be nonjudgemental with regard to race, income, special needs, disabilities, religion, family status and background. Must be patient, kind and understanding. Exhibit a warm caring attitude. Be tactful and sensitive to feelings and reactions from others. Possess emotional maturity. Demonstrate good judgement. Show initiative. Be able to maintain written records and report to site promptly and on a regular basis. Follow directions and accept supervision by site and program staff. Must cooperate and communicate with site and program staff. Abide by site and program policies, procedures and regulations. Attend required orientation and in-service training. Dress in neat and clean manner.

Role and Sample Activities:
Listening, talking, singing, walking, reading, feeding, turoring and modeling appropriate behaviors and skills. Encouraging socialization. Assisting with selfhelp skills (washinghands, eating, etc.) Participating in group activities. Playing games. Telling stories. Holding/hugging a child. Assisting with reading and other academic subjects. Teaching manners and social skills. Assisting with learning activities and developmental therapy. Reinforcing lessons taught by teachers. Helping the child to follow directions and accomplish work. Acting as a calming agent. Helping the child to stay focused. Clarifying/translating group instructionsinto individual instructions. Encouraging and praising the child. Assisting in the developement of motor and learning skills. Helping to prevent/delay/lessen the effects of institutionalization. Providing stimulation and learning experiences. Providing intergenerational exposure. Working on craft/art projects. Possibly pushing a wheelchair or accompanying children on feild trips.

Do not serve as: paid staff, custodian,babysitter, supervisor, substitute teacher or disciplinarian. Refrain from using corporal punishment, or physically orverbally abusing children. Refrain from giving gifts, food or money to children. Not to be left in charge without supervision by site staff. Refrain from bringing guests to the volunteer site unless written permission is obtained from the site and provided to the FGP office in advance of the visit. Refrain from taking children from the site unless accompanying them on feild trips supervised by the site staff. Refrain from correcting papers, making photocopies, preparing meals, and cleaning upunless children participate in these activities. Refrain from discussing personal religious beliefs, preaching, singing religious songs, or praying out loud. Refrain from participating in religious education classes, prayer services, mass or religious retreats.

Hugs, unconditional love, socialization with others. feeling needed/useful, gaining a sense of accomplishment, heightened self-esteem, making an impact in a child's life and solving community problems.

* Hourly stipend. Free daily meal at the site. Travel Reimbursement. Insurance. Free physical examinations (pre-enrollment and annual). Paid time off. Socialization. Recognition. Training (orientation and monthly in-service training).

* The stipend in non-taxible, non-reportable income that does not affect eligibility for other programs and services.
For more information on President Obama's "United We Serve" Campaign click on

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