Who are Ontario’s Young Carers?
A young carer is a child, youth or young adult that provides physical, medical, emotional or other supports to a parent, grandparent or sibling. While most young carers are between the ages of 8 and 24 years old, we know kids as young as 5 years old are in a caregiving role. Ontario has an estimated 3.3 million family caregivers — 17% are young carers between the ages of 15 and 24. There are many more left out of the statistics, as there is no data for young caregivers under the age of 15.
Young carers often grow up quickly, and lose their childhoods too early. They can experience feelings of anger, isolation, loneliness and grief—some suffer from depression or anxiety. Their school and work can suffer because of their added responsibility and they often have limited time to socialize or do extracurricular activities. On the flip side, many young carers are wise beyond their years. Their added responsibilities help build self-esteem, compassion, resiliency and independence, and they learn many important life lessons.
Although awareness of family caregivers is gaining momentum in Ontario and beyond, young carers are often an invisible population of caregivers.
In November 2017, The Change Foundation hosted Ontario’s first Young Carers Forum – bringing together 20 young carers and over 60 professionals, policy makers and researchers to talk about priority actions needed to support young carers in the important role they play in health care, in society and at home.
Young Carers Awareness Day is celebrated in the UK. For the first time, we are also recognizing this awareness day in Ontario. Join us on Twitter (@TheChangeFdn) using #YCAD to join the conversation.
We invite young carers, young adult carers, organizations that support young carers, and anyone that is interested in seeing change in Ontario for young carers, to help create an online blitz that will create awareness and understanding of young carers in Ontario.
In the Summer of 2017, the Change Foundation undertook the research for an inventory of organizations, programs and services across the Ontario that support young carers. This inventory profiles the organizations that provide much needed support and respite for this often invisible population of caregivers.
Meet Abbigail. In many ways, she’s a typical 14-year old. She loves to draw and look at stars and planets with her telescope. She’s also a young carer. This is her story:
On November 20, 2017 we hosted our second Hot Talks on Health event focused on family caregivers. The event shined an important light on the often invisible population of young carers.
Six young voices on what it’s like to be a kid and care for family – Olivia, Hope, Joel, Abbigail, Josh, Kendra. These six young people have all found themselves in a caregiving role at a young age.