Federal Budget Cuts Could Impact Foster Grandparent Program

Students Wrote Letters to Senator Al Franken, Asking to Save the Foster Grandparent Program

DULUTH, Minn. – A group of Duluth second graders put to use their daily writing lesson, lobbying to keep a classroom helper on hand Tuesday.

It all started with the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Each new President brings a new wish-list of ideas to the table when it comes to budget cuts.

Nearly 200 senior citizens in the Twin Ports could soon be facing the effect.

“Dear Mr. Franken, I believe The Grandparents Program should not be cut,” said CaNaeya, 2nd grade student at Piedmont Elementary.

Pencils and paper are creating political activism at a young age.

“We’re writing letters to Senator Al Franken,” she said. “We really care about our classroom grandparent.”

The students are working to save a core in their classroom, pushing toward the future with passion for grandparent helpers.

“They really need our help,” said Grandma Janel Bucsko, a volunteer in the Foster Grandparent Program.

Fifty-two years ago, grandparents started heading back to school across the nation.

“It’s good for the seniors, and it’s also wonderful for the children,” said Bucsko.

A wise opinion, routinely challenged by each and every new Presidential Administration.

“President Trump wants to make cuts in the program,” said Bucsko.

Program cuts, to save on the federal budget. This could directly impact the region’s Foster Grandparent Program.

“The President’s proposal is just the first step to cutting the Program,” said Katie Paine, Director of Volunteer Services with Catholic Charities Bureau Department of Community Services.

Paine is in charge of the Foster Grandparent Program, serving Douglas, St. Louis, Pine, Carlton, Lake and Cook Counties. The service, stems from the Senior Corps.

“One person believing that your program should be cut is just one too many even if that person is the President of the United States,” said Paine.

President Trump is trying to balance the nation’s checkbook. Cuts to save money in the budget could include not only the Foster Grandparent Program, but many
more.

Bucsko asked, “What’s going to happen to our children and our community without the Foster Grandparent Program?”

The Grandparent Program helps save $2 million dollars in the local economy each year. Without senior citizens like Bucsko volunteering to help out, more jobs would have to be filled.

“The students will be the ones suffering the most,” said Bucsko. “With our help, teachers can concentrate on their teaching while we’re helping the kids that need the help.”

“Our job now is to convince Congress, to convince our communities that our volunteers and the communities they serve truly matter,” said Paine.

For now, Foster Grandparents will continue providing their time to nearly 600 students and children directly in the Arrowhead and Northwestern Wisconsin.

“The program is just too vital to the community to be truly cut,” said Paine.

Officials with the Foster Grandparent Program advise those in support of keeping the program in the budget, to call and write letters to local lawmakers.

Paine says over the past ten years, minor funding cuts have been made, but cutting the entire program has never happened.

A plan is in place if the Trump Administration decides to do away with the Program. Paine hopes to keep the sustainability of the program strong, and keep donations coming in.

If you would like to learn more of for more information on the Foster Grandparent Program, click here.

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