Caregiving youth are children and adolescents who look after someone in their family who has an illness, a disability, frailty from aging, a mental health problem or a substance misuse problem. They take on practical and/or emotional caring responsibilities that normally would be the role of an adult.
The caring can involve lots of physical care such as personal care for a parent, giving medication, helping someone get up, dressed, and/or moving around. It can also mean providing emotional support for someone who has one of the conditions above or who has a mental health problem or misuses substances. In addition, many caregiving youth also have responsibilities for younger brothers and sisters and all or most of the household chores.
In ways very similar to adult family caregivers, caregiving youth, because of their caregiving role, may incur negative ramifications on their health, well being, and education.
After months of reaching out to the public to raise awareness about the issues surrounding the role of children and adolescents in long-term care, AACY began using the term "caregiving youth" in place of "young caregivers" to reduce public confusion about the term "young".