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Foster Grandparent Program celebrates 50 years but needs more volunteers

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CHARLES CITY, Iowa (KWWL)  For 50 years, Charles City Foster Grandparents Program has been helping Iowa children by going into classrooms and day care facilities to mentor, tutor or just read to students.   

The Charles City Foster Grandparents Program serves four counties, including, Floyd Chickasaw, Cerro Gordo and Mitchell.

The mission of the Foster Grandparent Program is to bring together an elderly person and a young child in specific ways that help each to grow in giving, caring, and learning. 

Program Director, Jennifer Lantz, says the program had some 60 volunteer Foster Grandparents before the pandemic, but that number has dropped off to 31. 

The program needs more volunteers. Foster Grandparents must be at least age 55, though they have two volunteers over 90. Volunteers must be winning to commit to a minimum of 1 hours a week, but some put in up to 40.

Background checks are a part of the program to ensure child and student safety. 

For more information on becoming a Foster Grandparent, call Jennifer Lantz at 641-257-6327. The program email is:  f.grandparents@mchsi.com

You can also find The Foster Grandparents Program on Facebook.

The program is located at 624 Main Street in Charles City.

The program serves some 22 locations in the communities of Charles City, Clear Lake, Marble Rock, Mason City, Nashua, New Hampton, Nora Springs, Osage, Rockford, Rudd, and St. Ansgar.

The Charles City Foster Grandparents Program (FGP) has been in existence in North Central Iowa since 1972 and the city of Charles City became sponsor of the program in 1990.

President Lydon Johnson established the program as a national initiative in 1965, to help American kids.

The Charles City program was honored recently at the Governor's annual Volunteer Awards ceremony at the Gallagher Bluedorn Performing Arts Center in Cedar Falls.  Here's why: The grandparent volunteers provided 65,722 hours of volunteer service to our area children.

Back in April, Charles City Mayor Dean Andrews honored the program for its 50 years of service with a ceremony at the Charles City Elks Club.

The Foster Grandparents focus on helping children meet their developmental and educational needs in reading, spelling, mathematics, writing, and social skills.

The Foster grandparents volunteer in day care centers to promote infant and toddler development in the area of trusting relationships with adults.

This enables the child to grow up to believe in themselves and become confident learners.