Saturday, August 14, 2010

Help for Children Who Are Caregivers (Video 5:34)

Imagine being one of hundreds of thousands of children, some as young as eight, who must serve as a major caregiver to an adult on a daily basis. This is the reality of many school children, particularly in racial-ethnic minority communities and among low to mid-income families.

As a former school principal, it was not unusual for me to have students in elementary through high school grades with attendance problems due to caregiving responsibilities at homes when no one else was available to help. These children’s responsibilities included medicating, dressing, feeding, bathing, and more. The emotional stress of child caregivers can be even more harmful to them than the physical burdens. Unfortunately, as the economy struggles and the ranks of baby boomers expand, increasing numbers of children are being assigned caregiving responsibilities.

More people are recognizing this problem, and for some children, but not nearly enough, help is being provided. The Caregiving Youth Project sponsored by the American Association of Caregiving Youth provides in-school assistance and a caregiver camp for children who are caregivers. This gives them an opportunity to receive guidance, support, and social interaction with other children who can understand what they are going through as they manage adult responsibilities. This "New York Times" video shadows the lives of three children who are caregivers and highlights this national program that assists them.

Frances Shani Parker, Author


  1. An excellent article and video. The organization referred to in the article is the American Association of Caregiving Youth. Interested people can check out the site at httP://

    Bill Hartmann Webmaster

  2. Thanks. I have added the organization link to the article.

  3. Thank you for writing about this issue - especially from the perspective of an educator. We must continue to raise awareness. With the support from our team of the Caregiving Youth Project through the American Association of Caregiving Youth, we - as well as the kids' families have seen remarkable differnces in school, at home and personally.