Grandparents can be a special part of one’s extended family. They can be support systems for the working parents, and they can be role models or mentors to their grandchildren. After all, grandparents are imbued with years upon years of experience and knowledge.

Unfortunately, not every child has access to this type of support. This can be either because the grandparent is unwell, or even deceased. Or because there is a difficult relationship between the grandparents and the child’s parents. This is why, abroad, special programs have been set up where a family can “foster” a grandparent. These elderly people are specially trained to interact with children of various needs and capabilities. They help to teach children how to read and write, they help the family when there is a child with a disability, and they are even trained to mentor troubled teenagers or young mothers.

This type of programme doesn’t just benefit the children and parents, it also benefits the fostered grandparent who has so much energy and knowledge to give. These types of programmes encourage elderly people to remain active within their communities, whilst also allowing them to use their experience to help others.


Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. With Willingness, Mel does life coaching and is one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team. They are also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess. They can be contacted on