'None of us plan to start over,' The price of helping grandparents save their kids from the system

Photo: Video by kgun9.com

'None of us plan to start over,' The price of helping grandparents save their kids from the system

CREATED Mar. 5, 2013 - UPDATED: Mar. 6, 2013

Reporter: Maggie Vespa

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Traditionally, a person's 'golden years' have been a time reserved for retirement and recreation, but here in Arizona and elsewhere the tide is turning for our seniors, as more and more take on the full-time task of raising their grandchildren.

Many do it to avoid seeing those kids sent into our state's overflowing foster care system, and as 9OYS found out, the task of supporting these families comes at a price for all of us.
 
"None of us really plan to start over," said Rosa Maria Borbon.
 
At age 66, Borbon is learning how to use a laptop.
 
"It's just a game where you make friends," explained her granddaughter, as she demonstrated on her computer.
 
It may be one of the easiest adjustments Bourbon has made, since deciding to raise her granddaughter on her own, 12 years ago.
 
"Everything changes.  It's not like when we were growing up.  This generation is so different," she said.
 
Rose Marie is the child of Borbon's son, who is in prison.
 
Rose Marie's mother died years ago of a drug overdose.  That's when Borbon took the infant in, to keep her out of foster care.
 
"Once you hold that child in your arms, it's like, it's a miracle," she said.  "It's a feeling that you can't let go.  You can't let this child go through what the system is putting them through."
 
And as word of the state's overflowing CPS system spreads, more and more grandparents are joining borbon's ranks.
 
"The stats are that there are at least 17,000 grandparents raising grandchildren," said Peggy Hutchison, CEO of Primavera.
 
That statistic applies to southeastern Arizona alone.
 
Primavera is one agency working to ease this burden, in part, by building Las Abuelitas, a 12 unit apartment complex on East 26th Street in South Tucson, for 'grandfamilies' in need.
 
That means, at least, 12 children will avoid foster care.
 
The total cost is $3.6 million, and much of that is public money.
 
9OYS reporter Maggie Vespa asked, "You say this will pay for itself, above and beyond."
 
Hutchison responded, "Oh absolutely.  It will more than pay for itself."
 
In fact, heads of Primavera say this is the kind of public-private partnership, that will save Arizona's foster care fiscal crisis.
 
It's a point that Borbon hopes reassures grandparents wrestling with the same decision, she faced 12 years ago.
 
"Do you want to go through all the trials of, 'Is it is worth it?'  Yes it is worth it," she said.
 
Of course, 9OYS wanted to know just how cost-effective something like Las Abuelitas is.
 
According to the Department of Economic Services, each child placed in foster care costs the state $1,700 per month, or $20,400 per year.
 
So, with a rough estimate of two kids per apartment, in this 12 unit complex, this project will begin pay for itself in a little more than 7 years.
 
It's set to open this summer.
 
To help Primavera, or for information on how you can use their services, you can call them at 547-3341.  You can also visit their website, by clicking here.

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