Foster grandparents program provides extra attention, love to kids in need

Posted at 11:02 AM, Jun 22, 2016

There's an unspoken rule that when you become a grandparent, your love becomes extra special.  And a group of special grandparents are sharing that love with as many children as they can.

Betty Elliott has volunteered at the Union Baptist Church Head Start program for 13 years.  She comes five days a week for seven to eight hours, and she loves every minute of it.

"When I tell people I volunteer with children, they tell me I'm crazy," she said.  "No, I'm not crazy, children need love."

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Geraldine Miller has been with the Foster Grandparents program for 12 years and volunteering at Union Baptist's Head Start for two years.  Miller is known for giving really good hugs and says it can work wonders when a child is having a bad day.

"That's why I tell them to give me a hug and all of that will go away for a little while," she said with a smile.

Miller and Elliott are two of the more than 50 dedicated volunteers with the Foster Grandparents program, run by the Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland.

"We place seniors in daycares and Head Starts to work one on one with children who have special or exceptional needs," said Rochele Jones, the program director.  "In some cases it may be nutrition, it could be positive redirection, sharing, things like that."

The foster grandparents play an important role in the growth and development of the kids they work with, and they take their roles very seriously.  Jones says some grandparents have been with the program for more than a decade.

"It's not as hard as I thought it was going to be when I first started," said Miller.  "Each year it gets better and better."

And it's not just the kids who benefit from the relationships, the grandparents also reap the rewards.

"It's hard to explain how you feel because it just does something to your heart it just makes you feel so good," Elliott said.  "Like you are doing something that is just so great and is helping someone other than yourself."

Family and Children's Services of Central Maryland is looking to expand the program in Howard and Carroll Counties.  For information on how to become a foster grandparent, you can go to their website or call 410-366-1980.

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