Caregiving Youth

Why It Matters

Children and teens are often the overlooked caregivers. Hundreds of thousands of Florida youth give up large chunks of their childhood to take on the adult responsibilities of caring for sick or disabled loved ones – often without any support.

Formal policies and support systems exist for adult caregivers in the United States, but not for children who do the same. Florida schools do not typically identify or provide support for caregiving youth, putting them at risk for academic, social, and emotional challenges.

Real-Life Story

Although it was more than five decades ago, the memories of caring for my grandfather as a pre-teen—giving him medication, even bathing him—are never far from my mind. At that time, words like “abandonment” and “trauma” were not often used to describe childhood experiences. In 1960, no one understood much about caregiving, like the emotional roller coaster rides involved and the toll it could take on grown men and women, let alone a child.

There was no intentional harm, though. It was simply a matter of not knowing. My “Pop” passed away when I was 13, and I eventually left home to become a nurse and grew professionally in my career. However, my experiences of caregiving and missing out on some of my childhood left me less than grounded.

– Connie Siskowski, Founder of American Association of Caregiving Youth

Where Florida Stands


Caregiving youth under age 18 in Florida

0 %

Young adults dropped out of school to care for a family member

0 %

Nearly one in four Florida middle school students serve as caregivers

Our Priorities

Florida is long overdue to recognize and formalize services to caregiving youth. It is vital the state learns the true scope of the problem and develop a statewide response.  A Florida Caregiving Youth Act modeled after other Florida legislation to identify vulnerable child populations will move our state in the right direction.

It is difficult for children of any age to balance household caregiving responsibilities and schoolwork and healthy play. The addition of household responsibilities is often hidden and lacks structured support options. It is important that schools and communities develop strategies to identify caregiving youth and provide educational and emotional support along with respite care. Engaging school personnel in collaborating with caregiving youth to create adaptable educational plans ensures that students are able to academically succeed while still providing care for their households.

The needs of a household that is dealing with chronic illness and/or aging often eclipses the needs of the developing child. Child caregivers must receive support to ensure their needs are not being overlooked. An adult tasked with looking after the needs of the caregiving youth can help in many ways, from advocating for them educationally, providing access to community programs that connect them with needed services, and providing the child with a place to be heard.