The focus on youth began after doctoral research in Palm Beach County identified an otherwise hidden population of child caregivers and their concomitant academic challenges. Findings from the 2005 Young Caregivers in the US report indicated that there are at least 1.4 million child caregivers ages 8-18 years of age. Months later, the 2006 Silent Epidemic supported the national and County research. It documented that among young adults who had dropped out of school 22% did so to care for a family member.
The first program in the US to provide services for the youth caregiver population began as the Caregiving Youth Project (CYP) began in the Fall of 2006 at one middle school in partnership with The School District of Palm Beach County. By the end of its 11th year, it regionally enrolled more than 1,500 students among 25 middle and high schools and has many more yet to serve. The CYP expansion is limited only by resources. Students remain in the CYP for nearly five and a half years. The CYP team provides services to students from grades six through twelve and it also works to strengthen families.
- Educate professionals in healthcare, education and the community about caregiving ramifications on student development and achievement
- Collaborate with schools and systems to initiate innovative solutions so that caregiving youth can be successful in their academic and personal lives
- Partner with health care providers in the early identification of caregiving youth and their families
- Provide resources for pre-teens, teens, families and professionals about issues and help for caregiving youth
- Utilize existing and develop new uses of technology to create a network of counseling, support of for caregiving youth
- Collaborate with existing caregiver support networks and community partners to identify and distribute resources for youth caregivers
- Educate legislators to produce policies change to support caregiving youth personally and academically
- Establish an affiliate network of Caregiving Youth Projects throughout the United States
- Advance the components of the Caregiving Youth Institute C.A.R.E. (Connection, Advocacy, Resources, Education)