Sharing resources between Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs

Abstract: 

Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs often recruit from the same pool of potential volunteers and have similar training and programming requirements and regimens. In Savannah, Georgia, these programs work closely together on recruitment, training, and management issues to make it easier for volunteers and directors while conserving resources.

Issue:

The Foster Grandparent Program and Senior Companion Program reach out to many of the same senior volunteers but operate two separate programs. This presents an opportunity to save time and effort through collaboration and shared volunteers, training, and other resources.

Action:

The collaboration between programs is easily implemented because both programs follow the Corporation for National and Community Service rules and policies. On issues determined by the sponsor, the directors collaborate on the best practice to implement.

Effective practices in collaboration between the two programs include:

  • Serving on each other's advisory council or advisory board.
  • Conducting joint trainings to save time. The Senior Companion Program director plans a training in April and the Foster Grandparent Program director plans a training in the fall.
  • Holding joint in-service trainings and recognition events so volunteers are familiar with both directors.
  • Sharing files, when appropriate, and using the same forms for physical exams, income verification, and beneficiary information.
  • Following similar procedures outlined in the volunteer handbook, to make the transition easier for volunteers who switch from one program to another.
  • Sharing applications of prospective volunteers. If one director is not in need of additional volunteers, the application is faxed to the other director.
  • Co-marketing: During the volunteer interview, directors talk about both programs to ascertain the best program to fit a volunteer's need. Also, during media interviews, directors talk about each program for double exposure.
  • Visiting each other's sites as an opportunity to do mini-compliance evaluations.
  • Participating in each other's annual evaluations.

Outcome:

The collaboration between the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion program has saved time and money and also increased the scope of resources available to the programs. Less time is spent on recruitment and training, allowing the directors more time to explore other endeavors to strengthen their programs. 

For example, the directors use one resource center/clinic for (a) in-service meetings at no cost and (b) physicals, and receive in-kind credit (all volunteers receive physicals at no cost to them or the program). The directors wrote a joint grant and received $1,500 for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day from the Georgia commission. They print joint local brochures and cooperated on other marketing tools that have saved money (e.g., bulk purchase of t-shirts). The Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions also join RSVP on special projects. Directors provide advocacy and support to the volunteers by sharing resources that benefit seniors.

For more information:

Website: 

Economic Opportunity Authority

Related Resources: 

Senior Corps


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