A program that’s been around for decades is bridging the gap between young and old. Grandparents who have extra love to give are taking on children as part of the Action For Community Development, or ABCD Foster Grandparents Program. I spent some time at with the children and their adoptive grandparents.

It’s snack time at a headstart program in Jamaica Plain. Milk and fruit are on the table, and the bright room is full of toys and books. The snacks are good, but for 5-year-old Criwhalis Nunez, grandma time is even better. She told me about the fun they have.

“She always watch my friends and then my friends always laugh with her. I always be happy with her.”

Nunez isn’t talking about her biological grandmother, she’s talking about one of her other grandmothers. It’s part of the ABCD Headstart Foster Grandparents Program.

The program has nothing to do with the foster care system. It’s just people who volunteer and spend time with the kids.

Esperenza Castro is a foster grandma. Ms. Castro speaks little English, but through an interpreter she told me she likes to spend time with the kids; she likes to feel interested in their things, in how do they feel, and in what they like to do. Castro is 73, and her only grandchild is in the Dominican Republic. She says sometimes she feels sad about that, but the kids at the program make up for it. Castro gets emotional when she talks about these kids -- she loves them.

Sharon Scott Chandler is Executive Vice President of ABCD. She says the program helps the children and the elders.

The program works with more than 150 foster grandparents and hundreds of children statewide. Chandler says they have made a difference, especially for kids who may need extra attention.

“This program was started during the war on poverty in the 1960’s. Children who we pair with a foster grandma do well and we are able to document that.”

 For Esperenza Castro being a foster grandparent is a good reason to get up in the morning.