Little is known about young people who are providing substantial unpaid caregiving for family members across Canada, with the Canadian literature on caregiving, particularly on unpaid caregiving to the elderly, focusing almost exclusively on the impacts of caregiving on women and families. In other parts of the world, however, these ‘Young Carers’ receive extensive media coverage, have access to a multiplicity of social services that operate to support their needs, and possess unique legal rights as child caregivers.
With funding support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Vivian Stamatopoulos, a Sociology PhD candidate, has been tracking the incidence and growth of youth-based caregiving across Canada in addition to the various short- and long-term consequences incurred by young carers as a result of their caregiving roles. Recently, her research has revealed that over one million Canadian youth between the ages of 15 to 24 were providing some level of unpaid caregiving in 2006, representing a 13.5% increase from 1996 (Stamatopoulos, 2015:12). Additionally, more than 100,000 of these youth were providing 15 or more hours of unpaid weekly care to other children with another 40,000+ providing 10 or more hours per week to seniors (ibid).
“These young people are really special and they deserve recognition for the work they do in supporting their families. Moreover, if we do not support these youth now, they face being held back in their current and future personal, professional and educational development. My hope is that my research will raise enough awareness to help secure the necessary funding required to develop adequate supports for the growing numbers of youth providing substantial unpaid familial caregiving” Stamatopoulos said.
For more information on Vivian’s research, feel free to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or refer to the following publication: Stamatopoulos, V. (2015). One million and counting: The hidden army of young carers in Canada. Journal of Youth Studies. DOI:10.1080/13676261.2014.992329