November 11, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Boca Raton's Woman of Grace
Boca Raton, FL.
Connie Siskowski, RN, PhD of Boca Raton became a Woman of Grace at the 12th annual Women of Grace luncheon of the Bethesda Hospital Foundation held on November 9, 2011 at the Ritz Carlton in Manalapan.
Siskowski earned the award for her volunteerism and for making a difference for caregiving youth and their families in Palm Beach County. According to Siskowski, a national expert on child caregiving, there are at least 10,000 children locally who have these adult responsibilities.
Siskowski is the first in the nation to create a comprehensive and successful support system for caregiving youth. The Caregiving Youth Project, a program of the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) facilitates skills building/support groups in middle schools, offers workshops on life skills, conducts home visits to link families to help and provides academic support as well as other resources to ease some of the responsibility and give caregiving youth the chance to be kids. It has established a Continuing Care Division for its 200 caregiving youth in high school as well as a Bereavement Transition Program for those students who experience the death of their care receiver. To date it has provided services to nearly 500 caregiving youth and their families and has more than 98% of its members staying in school.
"We need healthcare, education and the community to come together to recognize, reach out, and support caregiving youth to safeguard their education, their health and well-being along with their futures," says Siskowski. She wants the staff at Bethesda and other medical centers to become educated and then designated "Caregiving Youth Friendly Facilities" so that when family members are admitted, caregiving youth will be recognized for the value of their role and be included rather than excluded as part of their loved ones health care team.
In 2009 Siskowski received the Purpose Prize and a lifetime Ashoka Fellows award for the Caregiving Youth Project. Ashoka recognizes leading social entrepreneurs with innovative solutions to social problems. In 2010 she received the Distinguished Alumna Award from Johns Hopkins University and earlier in 2011 AACY received the Heroes in Medicine Community Outreach Award from the Palm Beach County Medical Society.