The Foster Grandparent Program is seeking volunteers in Monroe, Pike and Ralls counties to participate this coming school year in a decades-long area tradition in which mentors help children become better students.
Carol Bunch, Classroom Foster Grandparent Program coordinator, said children receive vital academic support from Foster Grandparents from early Head Start through third grade. Volunteers serve as role models, provide emotional support and help with educational tasks and specific areas.
"The personal connections that the Foster Grandparent and the child have are so very important in today's world," she said. "Not just academic, but also the social-emotional realm — and making that personal connection, I can't stress that enough, is so important to children who need it."
Each volunteer works with guidance from the teacher, helping a student in the classroom throughout the school day. The Foster Grandparent and child "help each other" as they learn and socialize together, Bunch said.
"All of our feedback has been very positive with the progress the children with a Foster Grandparent are making," she said. "Our Foster Grandparents become very attached to the children they are helping."
Bunch said the federal program has been active since 1965, and Foster Grandparents mentor students all over the nation.
Douglass Community Services volunteer training is planned for August, she said.
Bunch encouraged anyone who is interested in becoming a Foster Grandparent to contact Douglass Community Services by visiting 711 Grand Ave. in Hannibal or calling 573-221-3892.
"If there's anyone who loves children and loves learning, and has time to give, we're the program for them," she said.