April 30, 2021—BOCA RATON, FL-
The number of Caregiving Youth is growing, yet the population is still hidden. In the United States, there are more than 3.4 million caregiving youth (more than 290,000 in Florida alone)!
As part of its ongoing, continuous mission to recognize, champion and support caregiving youth, the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) held its first ever VIRTUAL Caregiving Youth Institute (CYI) Conference on Thursday, April 22, 2021.
This mini preview to the planned in-person conference on November 4th, featured national and international experts in the areas of Caregiving Youth as it relates to the Institute’s four tenets of C.A.R.E.: Connection, Advocacy, Research and Education. More than 100 people registered to attend.
AACY President and Founder Dr. Connie Siskowski organized the conference along with Dr. Ann Faraone, AACY’s Director of Education Services. Both women also served as facilitators of the conference.
“Thanks to the support of presenting sponsors AvalonBay Communities and Schmidt Family Foundation, we were able to host a virtual conference that reached participants in three other countries, in addition to the dozens of national attendees,” Rosie Inguanzo-Martin, AACY Board Chair said. “We are so grateful to our sponsors; and for our partnerships with so many passionate, intelligent and hardworking people, for their commitment to help us champion our Caregiving Youth.”
AvalonBay Community Manager Michael Grant from their Doral office, spoke briefly about what it meant to him to be a part of the conference as he shared that he had been a Caregiving Youth to his chronically ill mom, since he was 10 years old, up until her death in 2020.
Expert presenters for the Virtual Conference included: Jodi O’Donnell-Ames, Founder of Hope Loves Company; Hannah Hutler-Boyd, Chief Program Officer of Camp Corral; and AACY North County Team Leader and Family Specialist Cinthia Joas, MSW, RCSWI. All three discussed the ways to connect and support youth who care for someone with ALS, wounded warriors and participate in AACY’s Caregiving Youth Project (CYP) respectively.
Dr. Richard Lindsay from University of Virginia; Legislative Aide Abby Ross from Senator Lori Berman’s Office; and Felicia Goldstein, J.D., District Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Lois Frankel’s Office spoke about advocacy from an initiative at University of Virginia, from the State of Florida, and nationally in the country.
Dr. Julia Belkowitz from University of Miami Miller School of Medicine; Dr. Betsy Olson from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill; and Dr. Melinda Kavanaugh from University of Wisconsin discussed their comprehensive research regarding Caregiving Youth.
Dr. Mary Claire Mucenic from the School District of Palm Beach County and Tiffane Evans from the Florida Department of Adolescent Health conveyed information as it relates to education.
Kaylin Jean-Louis, a 10th grade Caregiving Youth from Tallahassee who founded Kaylin’s Caring Konnection, spoke about her role, helping to care for her grandmother and great grandmother, both who suffer from dementia.
During the conference it was also announced that AACY is working with Camp Corral, Hope Loves Company, Kaylin’s Caring Konnection, Inc. and Kids Are Caregivers Too, to host their First Annual USA Caregiving Youth Connect via Zoom on Friday, May 7 at 7 p.m. More details to follow.
Founded in 1998 by Connie Siskowski, RN, PhD, what is now AACY currently serves more than 450 caregiving youth (with more enrolled each day), in 33 middle and high schools throughout Palm Beach County. Its Caregiving Youth Project (CYP), which began at Boca Raton Middle School in 2006 has served more than 1,800 caregiving youth and their families. In partnership with The School District of Palm Beach County, the CYP provides professional services in school, out of school and at home as well as supports students and their families with a myriad of needs-driven wraparound services with the help of collaborating partners. Each Caregiving Youth remains in the program more than five years to help ensure a high school graduation and encourage them to seek a vocation or enroll in college.
The American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) is a Florida based 501(c) (3) non-profit corporation that began serving the greater Boca Raton community in 1998. Today it is the only organization of its kind in the United States for addressing the issues surrounding the silent, vulnerable, and hidden population, conservatively estimated to exceed 5 million children ages 8-18 years who provide care for chronically ill, injured, elderly or disabled family members. To donate to AACY, Volunteer, Mentor and to learn more, visit www.aacy.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 561.391.7401.