2013-2014 Senior Corps Study: Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions

Senior Companion Program; Foster Grandparent Program
Implementing Organization: 
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)

This study was a census of Senior Companion Program (SCP) and Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) volunteers (both Senior Corps programs) to see:

  1. Whether SCP and FGP were successfully recruiting and retaining diverse, low-income volunteers as they are intended to;
  2. How the two programs compare to each other in this regard;
  3. How SCP and FGP volunteers compare to respondents to the national Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) in terms of self-reported health, mobility-associated disability, and life satisfaction.

The study found that:

  • Across both programs, respondents were 55–104 years of age, with a mean age of 72 years.
  • Across both programs, respondents were 45% white, 40% African American, 2% Native American or Alaskan Native, 3% Asian American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander, and 6% other or more than one race selected.
  • Approximately 90% of Foster Grandparents and 83% of Senior Companions were women.
  • Approximately 41% of Foster Grandparents were African American compared with 38% of Senior Companions.
  • Approximately 21% of Foster Grandparents did not graduate from high school or did not have a GED compared with 26% of Senior Companions.
  • Foster Grandparents reported an average of 6.4 years in service compared with 6.1 years for Senior Companions.

In short, the Foster Grandparent Program and the Senior Companion Program engage a diverse population of low-income adults age 55 and older in high-intensity volunteer activity. Men were underrepresented in both FGP and SCP. Compared to HRS respondents who volunteer, the study found that SCP and FGP volunteers showed:

  • No statistical difference in the prevalence of excellent/very good health.
  • Higher prevalence of problems walking or inability to walk one-block.
  • Statistically significant higher prevalence of reported life satisfaction.
CNCS Program(s): 
Senior Corps
CNCS Focus Area(s): 
Healthy Futures
Age(s) Studied: 
55+ (Older adult)
Outcomes Category(s): 
Aging in Place
Benefit to National Service Member/Volunteer
Study Type(s): 
Case Study or Descriptive
Study Design(s): 
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)
Year Published: 
Date Posted Online: 
November 8, 2016
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