Young Carers and Back To School

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Originally published @allaboutestates.ca

With Labour Day fast approaching I thought it would be fitting to highlight the role that young caregivers have in providing care to another person.

Since the creation of Lucky, The Young Carer Rap, which was a partnership with the Vanier Institute of the Family based on research conducted by Dr. Grant Charles,  the numbers of young carers has grown.  At that time 12% of young people surveyed in Vancouver high schools were in a primary caregiving role.  The care recipient was a parent, grandparent, sibling or other relative.  Their responsibilities could include practical, personal and emotional caregiving tasks as well as a wider range of household task such as shopping, laundry and cooking. Some are also providing hands on assistance with activities of daily living.

The purpose of Lucky, The Young Carer video was to raise awareness and raise awareness we did!  Action Canada completed a Task Force Report and identified a number of steps to improve conditions for Young Carers across the country, including: increased awareness, improved data collection and research and a multi-sector effort to support Young Cares in their communities.

Statistics Canada in 2014 provided data on Young Carers and found that  one in four young Canadians were providing care to a family member or friend and were typically spending three hours a week in this role. However 5% were spending more than 30 hours per week caring for others. Mostly these young people were looking after their grandparents (40%), parents (27%), friends and neighbours (14%) and siblings or extended family members (11%). {Data from “It’s Time to Care for Our (Young) Carers” by Andrea Breen for the Vanier Institute}.

More recently The Change Foundation  identified that within Ontario, 17% of Ontario Caregivers are youth. Again these are young people between the ages of 15 and 24. However there are many young carers who are under 15 and some are still in elementary school. In August 2016, a number of these young people share their stories in some  wonderful videos.

While Labour Day typically signifies the end of summer vacation and a return to school, please remember that for many young carers, their caregiving responsibilities did not take the summer off.  Recognizing and becoming more aware of what these young people do, is the first step in supporting them. If you would like more information, please contact: The Young Carers Initiative  The Young Carers’ Program