On Tuesday, May 4, 2021, Spence-Chapin hosted a special virtual event, A Granny’s Love: Supporting Children in Orphanages During COVID-19. The COVID-19 crisis has affected children around the world, and for those who are without the support of family, the impacts can be long-lasting.
Spence-Chapin’s Granny Program addresses the great need that children living in orphanages have for consistent and individualized interaction from a caregiver, the lack of which can cause lifelong developmental delays and challenges with healthy attachment. The Granny Program trains “Grannies”—women from the local community—and pairs them with children living in orphanages to provide ongoing one-on-one attention to help them thrive. The program currently serves over 150 children throughout South Africa with plans to expand to other countries, including Colombia and Vietnam. During the COVID-19 pandemic, tens of thousands of children have become orphaned after losing their parents to the virus, adding to the 8 million children that are already residing in orphanages around the world. The Granny Program provides a proven and sustainable model to help children cope with the challenges they face, both during the pandemic and beyond.
The May 4th event, sponsored in part by JP Morgan and Phillips Lytle, featured a conversation with health and social work professionals who discussed the impact the pandemic is having on children in institutionalized settings and the ways the Granny Program can help address those challenges The panel included Spence-Chapin’s Associate Director of Pre and Post Adoption Services, Christine Tangel, LCSW; Dr. Diane Kunz, Esq., Executive Director of the Center for Adoption Policy; and Dr. Elaine Schulte, Medical Director of the Adoption Program at Montefiore Children’s Hospital.
The evening also included the premiere of two short films featuring Dr. Janet Lumb, a South African pediatrician specializing in children living in institutions, and Carol Bews, Assistant Director for Jo’Burg Child Welfare, Spence-Chapin’s partner in running the Granny Program at two orphanages in Johannesburg. These experts juxtaposed their stories along adoptive families whose children benefited from the Granny Program and testimonials from the Grannies themselves espousing the joy and fulfillment they receive from the program.
Thanks to the generosity of participants, sponsors, and those who supported the event, more than $70,000 was raised to provide Grannies for over 40 more children living in orphanages. If you were not able to make it to the event, but want to lend your support to the Granny Program, please visit www.spence-chapin.org/support-children.