New York, NY, OCTOBER 1, 2015 – Spence-Chapin, a New York City-based non-profit adoption and family services agency, announced today the launching its first domestic Granny Program, expanding their successful international program to the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center in Yonkers, NY. The Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center serves 137 of New York State’s most medically complex children, providing specialized clinical and rehabilitative services to children with multiple physical and neurological conditions and disabilities.
Children growing up in institutional care are often deprived of the opportunity to bond with a consistent caretaker. To address this, in 1998 Spence Chapin created The Granny Program, an early intervention program developed to provide critical one-on-one attention to children living in orphanages. Spence-Chapin brings volunteer “Grannies,” retired local women from the community, into institutions to spend time with the same child every day. This program has been shown to greatly improve both the attachment and development of participating children. In the nearly two decades since its founding, The Granny Program has had a dramatic impact on the lives of hundreds of children across seven countries and four continents.
“Adapting the successful Spence-Chapin Granny Program model for the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center will bring the many benefits of loving one-on-one relationships to a population that is right here in our local community,” says Ann Hassan, who oversees the granny programs for Spence-Chapin. “Volunteers in our Granny Program will be a vital addition to the exceptional medical and developmental care received each day by the young residents of the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center.” Central to the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center’s approach to care is the belief that children should be able to live in an environment that approximates a home-like setting, with elements of a neighborhood community. “What is more like a neighborhood than the opportunity to develop a special relationship with a caring local grandparent? We are thrilled to be able to contribute to the community that the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center has created,” Hassan adds.
Each Granny from Spence-Chapin will be paired with one child at the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center, providing consistent companionship, interaction and socialization thus enhancing the child’s quality of life. The residents of the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center have busy and structured days filled with stimulation and activity. Nights are quieter, and bedtime is a natural time to crave one-on-one attention, therefore the Granny Program at the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center will help each child with their nighttime routine. “From reading bedtime stories, to being a consistent comforting presence, these Grannies will become a vital part of our holistic care team, and will add to the normalization of the environment,” says Vanessa Andrews,
Coordinator of Volunteer Services and Clinical Lead, Child Life, the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center. “We hope these relationships will aid in reducing anxiety and increasing healing.”
Many of the residents of the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center require total care to help them interact with the world around them. Most cannot attend programming, play with toys, or read a book without the assistance of caregivers who have over time earned the trust of and learned to interpret the subtle cues of each child.
“It takes a dedicated and collaborative community to meet the unique needs of each of our residents,” says Ms. Andrews. “The Grannies will be a welcome addition to the group of caring individuals who provide exceptional care to these children.”
Spence-Chapin is actively recruiting Grannies—and Grandpas—for this very special and groundbreaking program. If you are interested in learning more about how you can help to change the life of a child living at the Elizabeth Seton Pediatric Center please call 212-369-0300.