Who are Young Carers?
There are almost 500,000 young carers in Ontario between the ages of 15 to 24 years old. As we know, young carers also include children and youth that fall under the age of 15, but who are not reported within this figure (Stamatopolous, 2015; Stats Canada, 2006). 17% of Ontario’s 3.3 million family caregivers are young carers (between 15-24), although young carers are often a forgotten group. Or to look at it in a different way, 28% of 15-24 year olds report being a caregiver.
Young carers contribute to the care of their friends and loved ones.
A young carer is a child, youth, or young adult that provides physical, medical, emotional, or other supports to a parent, grandparent or sibling.
Young carers provide an average of 14 hours of care per week, one quarter of carers spend 3-6 hours per day which is equivalent of a part-time job. Types of care* include:
|Domestic Care||cooking, cleaning and sibling care|
|Emotional Support||companionship and social support|
|Personal Care||administering medication, bathing and dressing, assistance with feeding|
|General Care||translation, transportation, and assistance with financial paperwork|
* Frank et al., 1999; Warren, 2017
On a weekly basis, young carers often spend 2-3 times more completing the above types of care than non-caring children and youth (Aldridge & Becker, 1993; Warren, 2007).
There are two sides to the young carers coin. Many are at risk of higher stress levels, loneliness, anxiety, having lower self-esteem and experiencing depressive symptoms. Young carers are also more mature and compassionate than many others their age, and often chose to go into a caring profession.
Young Carers in Ontario
There are very few organizations in Ontario (~10) that provide services and supports for young carers, and a general lack of awareness or understanding of who young carers are, and how they support their family members.
Family caregivers are gaining recognition in Ontario, however young carers are almost always left out of the discussion.
We know from the UK experience that young carers benefit greatly from both peer and professional support, as well as socializing with other young carers. We need more of this in Canada.
If you are a young carer in need of support, please contact Heart House Hospice at 905-712-8119 and ask about our H.U.U.G. program.