By Dr. Connie Siskowski and Keisha L Jackson
In today’s modern society, child and teen caregivers are tackling big challenges against daunting odds, and often without support. They are youth whose strength of character needs to be recognized and valued widely in society.
Yet it is ironic that many say young people today are self-centered and irresponsible.
Those people don’t take into consideration children who assume the adult responsibility of caring for chronically ill, injured, elderly or disabled family members – parents, grandparents, siblings.
They are unaware that there are children who rush home from school, or who are unable to go to school because there’s no one else to care for their invalid parent or grandparents.
Yes, there are children, even under 11-years-old, whose childhoods, education and shot at life have been sacrificed to care for loved ones.
Remember your days in middle or high school, years challenging for most. Imagine combining those pressures with the stresses of caregiving for a vulnerable adult or sibling.
Caregiving youth generally fly under the radar of America’s social consciousness. They work behind closed doors, bathing, feeding, giving medications, cooking… caring for their loved ones and demonstrating their willingness to put others first.
The American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) is a nonprofit organization serving children and adolescents who provide significant or substantial assistance, often on a regular basis, to relatives or household members needing help because of a physical or mental illness, disability, or frailty.
AACY is the only organization in our country exclusively devoted to helping more than five million children in this country…30 percent of children in the local Caregiving Youth Project care for more than one family member!
Thanks to donors and volunteers, AACY has reached and supported 2000 plus young people and their families – an average of five and a half years – by:
• Providing respite, computers, tutors, and mentors
• Visiting homes to strengthen families and link them to resources
• Conducting Skills Building groups in school
• Sponsoring fun “getaways” from caregiving through camp and other activities
Caregiving Youth are paying back the investment in them by staying in school and graduating high school as well as making better lives for themselves, their families, and our greater community.
The ROI is more than realized…
• Taxable income post-high school and college
• No soft expenses from increased teen pregnancy, disease, crime, and system dependence
Aren’t these values that should shape “Future” America?
With your help to gain legislative support and recognition, they will be!
Click here to read the article as it appeared in The Chicago Crusader on September 9, 2021