The Granny Program AND PROJECT PLAY

Providing care, attention, and play to the most vulnerable of children around the world.

The initial relationship between a child and their primary caregiver is a strong predictor of a child’s emotional and physical health, and ability to develop strong attachments later in life.  It is well recognized that due to a lack of resources, children living in institutionalized settings are often deprived of consistent, nurturing human interaction.  This lack of interaction is correlated to risks of lifelong developmental delays and challenges with healthy attachment. 

Spence-Chapin launched its original International Granny Program in 1998 to address this need.

The Granny Program brings volunteers from the community into children’s orphanages to devote time and attention to the same children each day. These little ones quickly begin to thrive thanks to the one-on-one attachment that children living in institutions usually do not experience.

In 2019, Spence-Chapin launched Project Play to address the critical role of play in children’s lives. Due to a lack of vital resources, many orphanages around the world are not able to provide an area for children to engage in structured and unstructured play which is crucial in helping children reach developmental milestones.

Project Play builds outdoor playgrounds with state-of-the-art equipment and stations at children’s orphanages. It also supplies birthday and holiday gifts and celebrations for children who so often never receive recognition on these special days.

To learn more about our Granny Program or Project Play, please contact us at 212-369-0300 or email [email protected].

The Granny Program and Project Play are made possible through the generosity of our supporters. To learn more about how to contribute to the success of these initiatives, please contact our Office of Development at 212-369-0300

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    The Granny Program and Project Play currently benefit children living in orphanages in Johannesburg, South Africa. More than 108 children are paired with 54 Grannies, and the program continues to expand. Spence-Chapin is currently working to bring the program to Colombia and Bulgaria.

    Spence-Chapin also supports a local Granny Program at the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center in New York, benefitting children with severe medical challenges who reside at the center.


    The Granny Program is a simple, direct, and cost-effective way to forever change the lives of children in institutions around the world with proven results.  The sheer fact a child now has a trusted adult and attachment figure leads to startling improvements in development and attachment.  Children who could not sit on their own are soon rolling over and crawling.  Little ones who were previously withdrawn emotionally now raise their arms to be picked up when their Grannies arrive for the day.

    Since Project Play began in 2019, more than 200 children have celebrated their birthdays and the holidays who previously had not.

    The first of four planned playgrounds for Project Play was completed in August of 2020. The playground benefits 90 children, providing them with a safe place to engage in sensory, creative, active, and group play.  Three more playgrounds are projected to be built by the end of 2021.


    The Granny Program has helped hundreds of children in 7 countries on 4 continents for 18 years. Beginning in 1998 in Varna, Bulgaria, the program has helped children in China, Colombia, South Africa, Moldova, and New York.

    The Granny Program and Project Play

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