Statistics Canada released last week (Sept 24, 2014) the latest data on Young Canadians providing care.
This information uses data from the 2012 General Social Survey on Caregiving and Care Receiving. In 2012, 27% of young Canadians between the ages of 15 and 29 provided some form of care to a family member. Grandparents were the primary care recipients. The study found that young carers typically spend about three hours a week providing assistance.
Over the years I have been particularly concerned about Young Carers and the need to have their stories shared so that they can receive the support and acknowledgement that is deserved. I partnered with the Vanier Institute for the Family and was the Executive Producer of “Lucky, The Young Carer Rap” video which highlights the many talents of Tricky P (aka Patrick Stephens) who raps his story about caring for his two grandmothers. His tale is poignant. The statistics highlighted in the Vanier study are sad. His story reflects the researchers from the University of British Columbia who surveyed high school students in Vancouver and found that 12% self identified as being primary caregivers, meaning they answered yes to the question: “Do you spend any time taking care of an adult in your family because they cannot care for themselves?” (Charles, Marshall and Stainton, 2010). This number cut across gender and ethnicity lines, with almost equal parts male and female youth identifying as caregivers. The mean age of the young carers in the study was 14 and just over two-thirds were providing care to either a parent or a grandparent. (Transition Summer 2012, The Vanier Institute of the Family, The Elephant in the Room: Young Carers in Canada, Miller).
Statistics Canada also reported that the type of help provided by these young carers was primarily meal prep and cleaning (66%) and providing transportation (66%). The study also found that young carers spent a median of 2 hours per week caring for a grandparent, while taking care of a parent required around 5 hours of weekly help. These are young people who are attending school and trying to be a kid, like everyone else.
Young carers are out there, you just have to look. For more information on supporting young carers, please visit the Young Carers Program .