CINCINNATI — Grandparents over age 55 are headed back to the classroom. It’s part of a program schools are now using to help fill the need.
A few times a week Renee Garrison reads stories, helps students find books, and runs the library at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic School in Cincinnati.
“With COVID and the kids being out of school, there's a great need. You know, our kids lost so much during that time and being a mentor or being a foster grandparent," Garrison said. "It makes me feel good because I know I'm helping."
Without her, Katie Durstock, the school’s principal, said there wouldn’t be a fully functioning library.
“This year we were just relying on teachers to come in, or if they had parent volunteers," Durstock said. "So with the help of the foster grandparent program, we were allowed, we were able to really stay open for three days a week, our library is open and classes can come and get that extra literacy component."
It’s the reason schools across Cincinnati are using grandparents to help and mentor students. It’s all a part of the foster grandparent program through catholic charities.
“It allows intergenerational mentoring within schools," said Aaron Glauberman, director of the Foster Grandparent Program. "It also allows low-income seniors to volunteer in schools and other community organizations, and they receive a small stipend for their service."
The program director says anyone who meets the income requirements and is 55 and up can apply to be a foster grandparent to help kids.
Garrison said it’s not only the kids who the program is helping.
“They can teach you as well as you can teach them," said Garrison. "You know, and they have that outlook that they want to grab. and I want to help them get there."
Organizers say they’re always looking for foster grandparents. For more information about the program, click here.