The nationally run website was founded by Cate Kloos in 2012. Originally from Germany, where local councils run surrogate grandparent programs, Ms Kloos went looking for similar programs in Sydney but couldn’t find any. That’s when she decided to start Find a Grandparent.
According to Ms Kloos there are lots of families that don’t have any grandparents in their life, because they are deceased or estranged or simply live too far away. “Find a Grandparent is for whoever feels like a grandparent in their life,” Ms Kloos says.
“Older people sign up to become a surrogate grandparent because they are lonely or they miss having contact with children.
“Most don’t have any grandchildren themselves. Or have some spare time to take on some more.”
On the website families and surrogate grandparents set up a profile and they can search by postcode for a match in their area. The site doesn’t publish any email addresses or phone numbers and people make the first contact online.
“It works just like a dating site,” Ms Kloos explains. “Seniors sign up on the website and families sign up and they meet online.”
But the service doesn’t end there. “We send our members guidelines to help them at their first meeting and we are always here to answer any questions they might have along the way,” Ms Kloos adds.
For safety reasons all surrogate grandparents are asked for a National Police Check. They are meeting families on a voluntary basis and the only requirement is that seniors need to still be fit and active.
“So they can play with the kids and spend active time with the children,” says Ms Kloos. “We have people signed up aged 50+ and the oldest surrogate grandparent is 83 years old.”
Find a Grandparent is a not-for profit organisation. Over the years Ms Kloos has had a lot of positive feedback from people who have used her service. “Most people are very happy and meet their surrogate grandparent once or twice a week.”
“Relationships form very quickly,” Ms Kloos says. “People who sign up are open to it and want it to happen. They open their homes and their hearts.”