CINCINNATI -- While a woman is in the hospital receiving treatment to battle brain tumors that caused her to go blind, her four children are struggling to stay together.
For now, officials from Hamilton County Child and Family Services say Cindy Altimari’s children will head to foster care until they can assess the situation.
The children were at their home in Sedamsville Thursday evening packing for their move to foster care. That’s expected to take place Friday or during the weekend.
But one of the children wants to care for his siblings while his mother fights to recover -- and beyond if need be.
"My mom has taught me everything I know. She's the one that taught me not to back down," said 16-year-old William Altimari.
William is taking the same approach to keeping his family together.
"I’m trying to do everything in my power but still being under age it’s kind of difficult," said William, who’s in the Cincinnati Job Corps program. He wants to be a welder.
Since Cindy started experiencing “headaches” that ultimately led to her blindness, William has cared for his two younger brothers, 10 and 2 respectively, as well as his older sister. The 21-year-old suffers from Autism.
"Mostly because my mom can't see I have to ... pay the rent, pay the electric and take care of everything for my mom," he said. "(Things like) getting paperwork ordered, filling out papers for her so she can collect social security, help my brother with his homework, help the baby and stuff."
William unofficially took on the role of man of the house when his mother went into the hospital for treatment Friday, Nov. 15.
"My dad has never been around so it’s always been just me and my mom,” he said. “It's been me and my mom against everything."
The Altimaris have no other family members in the area that can help them and are currently getting by on government assistance.
"My family here is the only family we have at all," William said.
He hopes his mother is headed home within the next month. But doctors at University of Cincinnati Medical Center told him she still has a long road ahead of her and will spend several more weeks in the hospital.
Until his mother comes home, the determined teen is in the process of becoming emancipated so he can be his family’s primary caregiver.
The process takes several months.
Officials from the Job and Family Services office say its priority is to keep the family together.