GRANDPARENTS RAISING THEIR CHILDREN'S CHILDREN,
ON "PRIMETIME: THE OUTSIDERS," TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23
For most kids across America, grandparents are the adults who spoil them and provide an escape from home. But for nearly seven million children, their grandparents are acting as their parents and facing some harsh realities in life. "Primetime" first reported on the phenomenon 18 months ago - following the lives of several children in Newark, NJ being raised by their grandmothers. This week Cynthia McFadden revisits the topic, reporting on the life and challenges of two grandparents raising their children's children in Delaware, on "Primetime: The Outsiders," TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET).
Nina McGonegal, 56, survives on social security and a part-time job to be mother and father to her two grandchildren on the outskirts of Wilmington, DE. Erika, age 16, and Matthew, age14, have been raised by Nina for the past decade and are thriving, while their father, Ronnie, has been in prison on various charges. He has been on and off drugs most of his adult life. Now Nina faces a difficult choice. Ronnie is about to be paroled... Should she let him come home or not? She decides she must take him in, and her decision will have dramatic repercussions. Nina allows "Primetime" into her home to report first hand on what happens.
Roughly 10 times the number of children that are in the U.S. foster care system are being raised by grandparents. But about a quarter of all grandparents raising grandchildren live below the poverty line. For Nina, if Matthew and Erika were in foster care, their foster parents would receive about $500 a month for each child. But in Delaware, a grandparent receives $200 a month for the first grandchild and $69 a month for each subsequent child.
The program also looks at the life of Nina's friend, Tina Light. In 1997 Nina met Tina at a support group meeting for grandmothers raising grandkids. Tina is also raising her two grandchildren, and has been doing so since they were infants. While finances are not the driving problem for Tina, dealing with her daughter, Jennifer, is. Jennifer struggled with a heroin problem and, despite being off the drug for over two years, she is currently on methadone. According to Tina, "I have grieved the loss of my daughter... that she's not the person I'd hoped she would be... that I thought I raised her to be."
How do Nina and Tina cope? One way is through their own a support group they have started, called Grandparents United Delaware. They raise money and awareness for grandparents raising grandchildren in Delaware
David Sloan is the executive producer of "Primetime: The Outsiders."