The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Local News

March 15, 2014

Extended families provide children with needed love in Ashtabula County

A grandparent’s love for her grandchildren pushed Nancy Slider into a major life change.

Slider, 60, is not alone as dozens of families, neighbors and friends scramble to help children whose parents aren’t able to care for them.

Slider said she began documenting her grandchildren’s situation as her daughter sped into a life of drugs.

“Heroin is a terrible situation,” Slider said.

Slider was able to gain custody of two grandchildren and has been rearing them with her domestic partner, Sue Phillips for the past several years.

The family was able to work with the children’s biological father.

“My son-in-law sees the kids every weekend. We go on vacations together,” Slider said.

A month after Slider won custody of the children her daughter died.

Slider said she started the custody process because of concern for the children who she believed were in an unsafe environment and were struggling in school.

“The kids have really excelled. The school (Ashtabula Area City Schools) has been extra helpful. It takes a little bit of caring and stability,” Slider said.

The transition to full-time parenting, at 60 years of age, can be a unique challenge, but went well for Slider.

“It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be,” Slider said.

Slider said the Ashtabula County Kinship Support Group has been helpful in connecting with other grandparents raising their grandchildren.

She said they are able to share physical resources like clothes and furniture, but more importantly work through challenging emotional issues that can leave people feeling isolated.

“A lot of people think they are alone out there (but) It is like an epidemic in Ashtabula County,” Slider said of the families looking for creative ways to help children maintain a normal life.

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