Welcome to the California Department of Developmental Services
DDS Logo California Department of Developmental Services
1600 9th Street
P. O. Box 944202
Sacramento, CA 94244-2020

Info: (916) 654-1690
TTY: (916) 654-2054

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Foster Grandparents 50-year-anniversary Senior Corps logo

Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs

The Department of Developmental Services (DDS) started its Foster Grandparent Program in 1967 at Pacific State Hospital which became Lanterman Developmental Center and is now closed. Now operating in nine locations, low income seniors, age 55 years or older, are matched as volunteers with Regional Center consumers who are under the age of 21. With a lifetime of experience, the Foster Grandparent offers comfort and assistance to the consumer so he or she may fully participate in school or daily living activities and enjoy a higher quality of life.

DDS also operates the Senior Companion Program which started in 1978 and shares the same philosophy and goals as the Foster Grandparent Program; however, Senior Companions volunteer to mentor Regional Center consumers who are 21 years of age or older. Mentoring and companionship is the main focus of the one-on-one partnerships that are created by the program.

Currently, DDS has over 550 Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions serving in the following areas:

Central Valley Regional Center

Susan Heighton, FGP Site Director
(559) 738-2207

Kern Regional Center

Melissa Searson, FGP Site DIrector
(661) 852-3217

San Andreas Regional Center

Mia Garza, FG/SCP Site Director
(408) 341-3861

San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center

Leslie Egge, FG/SCP Site Director
(909) 706-3620

Tri-Counties Regional Center

Rebekah Nagel, FG/SCP Site Director
(805) 884-7226

Valley Mountain Regional Center

Mara King, FG/SCP Site Director
(209) 955-3351

Fairview Developmental Center

Wendy Hemminger, FG/SCP Site Director
(714) 957-5188

Porterville Developmental Center

Kimberly Latham, FG/SCP Site Director
(559) 782-2405

Sonoma Developmental Center

Wendy Reid, FG/SCP Site Director
(707) 938-6201

Eligible volunteers provide a minimum of 15 hours of service per week to the consumer and in return they receive:

  • A tax-free stipend
  • Partial reimbursement for travel expenses
  • A meal stipend each day they volunteer
  • An annual physical
  • A 20 hour orientation and on-going in-service training
  • Recognition for volunteer service

The Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs benefit all parties. Volunteers remain physically and mentally active and they report that the quality of their lives is greatly improved. In addition, the toddlers, children and adults with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities receive guidance which empowers them to achieve their physical, emotional and social goals.

For information about becoming a volunteer, please contact the center listed above for your area. For additional information about the program, please contact:

Department of Developmental Services
Foster Grandparent/Senior Companion Program
1600 9th Street, MS 3-13
Sacramento, CA 95814

Teri Saenz
Statewide Director
(916) 653-2457

Last Updated: 7/25/2018