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Foster Grandparents: Bridging the generations for 45 years

9_W_Foster Grandparents
“Grandparents” volunteer their time in the schools helping students with projects, reading, math and any other forms of assistance and support for the students and teachers they serve. Foster Grandparent volunteers met in the Charles City NIACC center in 2016 for their annual before school inservice.

By Mary Litterer, 641-257-6327 or email

The Charles City Foster Grandparent Program has started its 45th year of service in Floyd, Chickasaw, Cerro Gordo and Mitchell Counties.

The program serves 1,494 children in 22 sites in the counties it covers, giving back 64,160 hours annually. Foster Grandparent volunteers must be 55 years of age or better to be in the program and willing to volunteer 15 hours a week, pass a background check and physical.

The volunteers work with students in schools with reading, spelling, math and some children may just need a stable adult in their lives. In daycares, volunteers rock babies, read to children, nurture and love them.The relationships developed with the children may last a lifetime. It’s a win-win situation for the child, as well as the adult.

For many of the volunteers it can be the grandchild relationship that they don’t have in their lives, due to their own grandchildren living far away. They may not have access to grandchildren or they just might not have grandchildren of their own.

The Foster Grandparent Program started in August 1972 with Comprehensive Systems as their sponsor, the director was Mary Kloberdanz. When the children at Comprehensive Systems were main-streamed into the public school system, Northern Trails Area Education Agency took over sponsorship in 1987 and held that position for 3 years.  Diane Vermillion was the director at that time. They relinquished sponsorship in September of 1990. 

After quite a bit of discussion, the city of Charles City agreed to be the sponsor. This turned out to be a great relationship. The city of Charles City has been steadfast in its support of the Foster Grandparent Program.

The city of Charles City has been the sponsor of the program for almost 27 years, helping to grow the program to what it is today, starting out in six sites and expanding to 22 at present time. This past year, 95 percent of elementary students increased in reading skills, 97 percent of the 2-6 year olds improved in following directions, 98 percent improved in accomplishing tasks, 98 percent of 0-2 year olds were easier to sooth, and 98 percent improved in eye contact.  One hundred percent of the Head Start children improved in attention span.

The Foster Grandparent volunteers, program staff and sites would like to thank the city of Charles City for being a stellar sponsor for so many years.

The program would also like to thank the school personnel, local businesses, volunteer stations and the citizens for their overwhelming support of the Foster Grandparent Program, making “bridging the generations for 45 years” possible.

If you would like more information on this very rewarding program, please call me at 641-257-6327 or email