Have you ever heard of Generations of Hope? This is one of the best experiments in building a community good for children that I have heard about in a long time.
Generations of Hope is a nonprofit adoption agency that builds nurturing small town communities, which include surrogate grandparents! And, yes, I think this is key!
As I wrote in an earlier post, I strongly believe that children need parents, but they also need grandparents, or grandparent-like figures, in their lives.
What's fantastic about this community is that everybody is benefiting. Hard-to-place children who are up for adoption -- many of whom have been cycled through multiple foster families -- are permanently placed with adoptive families. The adoptive parents receive crucial support and also live rent-free. Elderly residents benefit by receiving subsidized rent. The older residents agree to do community service, like tutoring, and they seem to thrive, too. They adore their "adoptive" grandkids. Families are stronger thanks to the close proximity of the grandparent generation.
I grew up with my grandmother living just a few doors away, and I know I was incredibly lucky. Many families do not have this luxury and must go live where their jobs are, not necessarily close by to the grandparents or other extended family members. But Generations of Hope shows that community and family can be built up consciously across the generations, even where there is no biological relatedness.
To read more about these incredible communities, go to: