In the United States, there are signs of beginning awareness of an issue that policymakers in Australia and the U.K. have recognized for years: More and more children are providing care for elders and other adult relatives with disabilities.

Connie Siskowski, RN, PhD, founder and president of Boca Respite Volunteers and the Caregiving Youth Project in Boca Raton, FL, has researched the problem in the United States and has written that:

"Recognition, assessment, education, support, and research of young caregivers is yet to be well established throughout the United States. Studies show that as a result of family caregiving, employees miss work, arrive late, have telephone interruptions, and pass up promotions.

"Education is essentially the work-life of a student. Research among 12,681 public school students in Palm Beach County, Florida, shows that more than 1 in 2 middle and high school youth (6,210) have the dual role of young caregiver and student; one third of all students (67.1% of young caregivers) miss school/after school activities, do not complete homework, and/or are interrupted in their studying- their work-life. As demonstrated in the United Kingdom, assessment, education, and support of young caregivers in school and in the community can improve education outcomes. Proactive school nurses have the opportunity to identify, assess, and promote the well-being and academic success of U.S. student-caregivers."

New York Times Article Spotlights Young Caregivers

Across the country, children are providing care for sick parents or grandparents - lifting frail bodies off beds or toilets, managing medication, washing, feeding, dressing, talking with doctors. Schools, social service agencies and health providers are often unaware of those responsibilities because family members may be too embarrassed, or stoic.

Experts say many child caregivers are from single- parent, low-income families, including some from foreign cultures accustomed to such roles. Others are from middle-income families whose insurance does not cover home care. To view this entire article by Pam Belluck of the NY Times, visit: (web page).

United Kingdom: Two New Reports Examine Young Carers

The Family Caregiving Alliance (web page) reports that two new studies by Fiona Becker and Saul Becker from the University of Nottingham examine the experiences and needs of children and young adult carers in the United Kingdom.

The first report, Young Adult Carers in the UK: Experiences, Needs and Services for Carers aged 16- 24, provides an in-depth picture of the numbers, needs, experiences and service responses to young adult carers.

The second report, Service Needs and Delivery Following the Onset of Caring Amongst Children and Young Adults: Evidenced Based Review, provides an evidence-based review of young carers and their service and support needs following the onset of caring, the factors that explain why they become carers in the first place and why they often have to stay in these caring roles for many years, the nature of the tasks and responsibilities that they perform, and the range of outcomes associated with caring.

For more information, visit: (pdf) and (pdf)

Author's Bio: 

A pioneer in the field of caregiving / work balance, John Paul Marosy's ideas and techniques have been applied by thousands of organizations and individuals to enhance caregving / work balance. John Paul is an inspirational keynote speaker and trainer, the author of the award-winning book, Elder Care: A Six Step Guide to Balancing Work and Family, and president of the consulting firm Bringing Elder Care Home