Angie is 50 years old and lives in Ohio. She began caring for her granddaughter when she was still an infant. “If my daughter is unable to care for her, then I felt it was my place to do so. She’s my baby too,” Angie stated. “But it proved to be a lot harder than I ever imagined it would be.”
When the baby came to live with her, Angie had been working for well over 10 years. She was earning a decent wage and was working full time. Adding an infant to the mix definitely created challenges around child care. Occasionally she was able to get someone to watch the baby while she worked, but oftentimes she either called off or was forced to take her granddaughter with her to work. In 2008, when her granddaughter was just one year old, the company that Angie worked for was bought out and laid off all of its employees. The new company brought in all new workers at a lower pay rate.
Angie found herself trying to figure out how to take care of herself and her small grandchild. She had been working steadily, but was now looking at deeper challenges to employment. She was a middle-aged Black woman living in a community whose unemployment rate was extremely high and the good jobs that paid a living wage were scarce.
Angie also lacked a concrete support system to help take care of her young grandchild.
Her granddaughter was not yet old enough to go to school, and Angie simply could not afford childcare. The job she had lost was the best paying job she had ever had. After applying for several positions, Angie was at her wit’s end. She was struggling to meet her and her granddaughter’s basic needs.
When Angie’s unemployment benefits ran out, she was forced to move in with other family members. She and her granddaughter survived off of $373 a month and food stamps. “No grown woman wants to move in with her family. This is not the life that I imagined for me and my granddaughter.” During the first four years that Angie took care of her granddaughter, she received no credits or income towards her Social Security.
Shortly after her granddaughter entered elementary school, Angie finally found a position. It was part-time and during the day, so she wouldn’t have to worry about childcare, but the pay was minimum wage and there were no benefits. “I’m glad to be working again. No one wants to be unemployed. But I am really concerned about our future.” Angie has no savings and, like many women, most of Angie’s earnings had been quite low. “According to my statement, I will only receive $379 a month at retirement age. However, if I had been able to maintain my full
wages, my projected benefits would be higher.”