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  • Writer's pictureLet's Check-In

When the Tables Turn Early: Children as Caregivers

Children stepping into the roles of caregiver

For the most part caregivers are, in our common understanding, adult children taking care of their parents or parents taking care of their sick children, right? Well, there is more to the story because there are a significant percentage of children across the country acting as caregivers for their parents and other family members.

According to the website of the American Psychology Association, “a large number of children and adolescents--referred to as ‘Caregiving Youth’--are also serving as caregivers for sick or disabled siblings, parents or aging relatives. Nationwide, there are approximately 1.3 to 1.4 million child caregivers between the ages of 8 and 18. Of the 28.4 million caregiving households that have a child 8 to 18 years of age living there, 3.2 percent, or 906,000 households, include a child caregiver (National Alliance for Caregiving, 2005)." These numbers were stunning to us at Let’s Check-In when we started to drill down to learn more about the subject.

Just growing up, getting through puberty and adolescence, and into adulthood is hard enough. What types of challenges are these young people facing when they are forced to deal with these serious issues at such an early age? The New York Times Blog has taken a look at Supporting Children Who Serve as Caregivers and the need for our society to recognize them as a vulnerable population at risk for dropping out of school and more. Take a look at the piece and let us know what you think.

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