Young Carers Program
What is a Young Carer?
A young carer is someone who is 18 years and younger, and provides a substantial amount of care to a family member on a regular basis.
The family member may be a parent, sibling, grandparent or other relative, and may need extra care due to a life threatening or chronic illness, a mental illness, a physical disability, a substance addiction, or because they are a newcomer to Canada and have a language barrier.
Currently the UK estimates 175, 000 young carers nationally, and the USA estimates 1.3 to 1.4 million young carers (Dearden & Becker, 2004; National Alliance for Caregiving, 2005). Based on these precedents, it is estimated that the incidence in Canada would conservatively be at least 108,000 young carers (Young Carers Canada, 2010).
The young carer's extra responsibilities may include helping with:
This unique role and extra responsibilities can cause substantial amounts of stress which can lead to depression and emotional turmoil. This role can also differentiate young carers from common youth experiences. It can isolate them from peers, and limit their time for studying and joining extracurricular activities.
Impacts the young carer can feel:
Stress, exhaustion, social development issues & relationship issues, loss of childhood role, emotional turmoil, isolation, and grief
Unfortunately these negative impacts can result in the development of eating disorders, self-injurious behaviour, addictions, depression, as well as poor school performance and even being bullied at school.
On the upside, young carers often are found to have high levels of maturity, compassion, resiliency, independence, and strong family bonds.
Some children and youth in caregiving roles don't even have any adverse effects from caring. So how do we know which ones are "Young Carers" in need of support?
A young carer becomes vulnerable when the level of caregiving and responsibility to the person in need of care becomes excessive or inappropriate for that child, risking impacting on his or her own emotional or physical well-being or educational achievements and life chances (Frank, 2010).
Who we are
The Young Carers Program is an inter-agency strategy developed to meet needs of young carers and their families by facilitating programs throughout Toronto that focus on recreational, social, educational, and skill development activities
We strive to build resilience in young carers by creating opportunities for mutual support, fun, and optimal development, which will strengthen the resources within the youth as well as their families.
The Young Carers Program strives to:
If you are a young carer, we know how hard life can feel sometimes. It's not easy having to do more at home than your friends, not getting to join after-school activities, not having time to finish homework, staying up late to help get family members to bed, having to translate, being bullied because you're not like other families, and everything else!
You may feel proud and happy that you are able to help your family. After all, you have developed some amazing qualities from taking on such a big role, but it's still okay if you feel sad, angry, frustrated, disappointed, tired, discouraged, left out, worried or scared.
By joining the Young Carers Program, you'll meet other kids like you, and learn new skills that will help you build on your successes, and also help get rid of some of those tough feelings. The best part is, you can kick back, relax for a while, and have fun!
Want to Sign Up?
For more information, or to sign up for the Young Carers Program, fill out the referral form or contact us by phone or email. Once applications have been processed, eligible families will be contacted to set up a meeting in order to assess the needs of the young carer and his/her family. Programs are of no cost to eligible families.
Want to Help?
Raise awareness about the Young Carers Program and the challenges facing young carers.
If you think you have what it takes to be a VOLUNTEER in the Young Carers Program, we'd like to hear from you! We're looking for individuals who have a passion for working with children, and who are interested in helping out with running social and recreational activities. We value our volunteers' commitment and experience and their desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children and their families. Please visit our documents page for a position description and application form.
With extra supports in place, young carers can achieve their full potential!
This program is funded by the Government of Canada's Social Development Partnerships Program, Jays Care Foundation, Ontario Trillium Foundation and TD Securities Underwriting Hope Charity Auction. It was also awarded the Toronto Community Foundation’s Vital Youth Award in 2012.