Opportunities for seniors to reinvest in the lives of future generations
When you join AmeriCorps Seniors, you choose how you want to give back. Help a struggling child to learn to read, support a food bank or give your time to your local library. These are just a few of the service opportunities available to you through AmeriCorps Seniors.
Although all AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers must be 55 years old or older to participate, individuals can choose to serve through Porter-Leath's Foster Grandparent or RSVP programs. Both opportunities' requirements and volunteer scope are detailed below.
For more information, call Judy Rautine at 901-577-2500 x 1128.
AmeriCorps Seniors Serving as Foster Grandparent Volunteers
Children need strong, consistent relationships with caring adults that help build confidence and life skills. They need extra love, nurturing and understanding. through the AmeriCorps Seniors programs at Porter-Leath. As an AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer serving as a Foster Grandparent, you can help to fill the gap, bringing children in need together with seniors in a mutually-beneficial experience. Although the Foster Grandparent Program has operated in Memphis since 1972, Porter-Leath has been the sole sponsor since 1985 and now serves in DeSoto County as well.
- One-on-one emotional support of disadvantaged children
- Tutoring of children with low literacy skills
- Mentoring of troubled youth
- Increased sense of belonging and accomplishment for seniors
- Increased interaction and nurturing for children
- Stronger communities through cross-generational learning
- Respectful, positive relationships with caring older adults
What is the purpose of Foster Grandparents?
The Foster Grandparent program connects role models like you to children and young people with exceptional needs.
What are the requirements to apply?
Signing up to become an AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer is simple, just complete a short one page application. If you are at least 55 years of age and meet income guidelines set by Congress, you can qualify to serve as a Foster Grandparent volunteer. Since all Foster Grandparents serve with children and youth, volunteers must pass a background check process to be able to serve.
How often do I have to volunteer?
The Foster Grandparents program is designed to build a lasting relationship between a child and their 'foster grandparent.' Volunteers are asked to maintain a consistent assignment of hours on a weekly basis. Assignments are, on average, 20 hours per week. Foster Grandparents may choose service schedules that range from 15 to 35 hours per week.
What type of volunteer opportunities are available?
AmeriCorps Seniors serving as Foster Grandparents volunteer as mentors and tutors to children and youth in classrooms at early childhood programs, Early Head Start sites, elementary schools and Youth Villages.
What are the benefits of serving as a Foster Grandparent volunteer?
Foster Grandparents earn a tax-free stipend based on hours served, at a rate set by Congress. Mileage reimbursement is paid based on miles driven or bus fare for travel from their home to their service site. In addition to remaining active and sociable, Foster Grandparents receive training, supplemental insurance, the opportunity to attend holiday social gatherings and are recognized during Porter-Leath's annual volunteer recognition event.
Early Head Start
In the 2019-2020 school year, Foster Grandparents supported 28 children in Porter-Leath Early Head Start, for children ages 0-3 years old. On average, these children have experienced a 11% gain in language skills, which lay the foundation for subsequent literacy skills. Children served by Foster Grandparents displayed a higher rate of skill growth than their peers not supported by Foster Grandparents.
Porter-Leath Early Head Start measures child-level achievement with the E-LAP assessment, which focuses on six core domains: Gross Motor, Fine Motor, Cognition, Language, Self-Help, and Social-Emotional. During the 2019-2020 academic year, children served by Foster Grandparents showed steady growth in all domains throughout the school year.
Head Start and Pre-K
While the Shelby County early childhood community uses a holistic approach to ensure children are prepared for kindergarten, literacy and language skills are emphasized as critical components for school readiness as these two domains lay the foundation for subsequent literacy competencies to build upon. 100% of Head Start and Pre-K children matched with Foster Grandparents made gains in their language skills, and 80% made gains in their literacy skills throughout the year. These children demonstrated an average skill growth of 15% in language development, and an average skill growth of 12% in literacy.
Children paired with Foster Grandparent volunteers mastered fewer skills at the beginning assessment than their peers who were not matched with Foster Grandparents, thus highlighting that children who were in the greatest need of additional support and one-on-one time were correctly identified and provided with resources, experiences, and interactions that leveraged their development and learning. The Brigance assessment provides details about a child’s mastery of developmental and academic skills in Pre-K and Head Start classrooms. As you can see in the chart below, among the children paired with Foster Grandparents there was at least a 10% growth in ALL seven domains from the beginning to the mid-year assessments.
*NOTE: Final assessments for both the E-LAP and Brigance were not administered in preschool classrooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic.