State foster grandparent and senior companion programs would each get $250,000 funding infusions in fiscal year 2019 under a bill to be considered Wednesday by the House Health and Human Services Finance Committee.
Current annual state funding for foster grandparents is $866,404, according to the state Department of Human Services. The program puts seniors in day-care centers, schools and other facilities. Volunteers in the senior companion program help other older Minnesotans with daily living tasks. It now gets $570,087 a year from the state.
Sponsor Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, said all seniors should “find opportunities to have purpose and find engagement with others” so they can “share not only their joys, but their sorrows with someone who is a like mind.”
State Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point, sponsored that chamber’s version.
Susie Schatz, senior director of advocacy for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota said the programs have “flown under the radar” for years but have been proven to reduce health care costs.
If approved, new grant funds also would be used for that purpose through health care partnerships, Schatz said. Lutheran Social Service is among nonprofit groups that help operate the programs, which are administered by the Minnesota Board on Aging.
Federal funds also contribute to the programs. In his 2019 budget plan, President Donald Trump called for the elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service, which handles the federal portion. But the spending plan he signed March 23 continued the funding.