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Relational Child and Youth Care Practice


ISSN 0840-982X  /  VOLUME 25 NUMBER 2

Table of Contents and Article Abstracts

3  /  Editorial:  Making the Invisible, Visible / Grant Charles

This special issue of Relational Child & Youth Care Practice is about a group of young people who are virtually unknown in North America. Not unknown because they are few in numbers, but because we just don’t tend to see what is right before our eyes. Their invisibility says a lot about our profession and our society. Is it that we see only young people in need who tend to act out, and ignore the needs of young people who are quieter in their interactions with our systems? Really, that was a rhetorical question, as I know we do tend to ignore young people who aren’t pushing against the seams of our systems.

These young people I am talking about are often hyper-mature for their age. They stand out through their ability not to stand out. They quietly take on adult responsibilities in their families because, for one reason or another, the adults struggle to do so. They step up to the plate to take care of their families when the adults are unable or unwilling to do so. Sometimes it is just for short periods of time because of a temporary illness of a parent. For others, it is a life-long journey that begins in early childhood. In either case, they sacrifice through choice or circumstances parts of their childhood to care for others in their families. Sometimes they end up struggling in their lives because of the tremendous demands placed upon them as children. Sometimes they feel tremendous pride and a strong sense of accomplishment for the contributions they make to their families. In any case, being a young carer changes their lives.

Young carers are well known in the United Kingdom and Australia where there are many support programmes for them. They are well known, although not necessarily by this name, in many African countries where there are large numbers of orphans. One of the most effective and creative young carer interventions in the world is the Isibindi programme run by the National Association of Child and Youth Care Workers in South Africa. This pro- gramme helps maintain young people in their family homes through the provision of in-home support.

In North America we have, until recently, ignored these young people. The first young carer programme in Canada goes back only 10 years or so. Now called the Powerhouse Project it was set up in the Niagara Region in Ontario at a time when nobody in this country was talking about young carers. Since then, projects have been set up in Toronto and on Vancouver Island. Both of these programmes are described in this issue. What I find remarkable about these projects is how in each case people working with youth saw a need and developed a response to it, against heavy odds. In a time when those in the helping professions are feeling increasingly under the gun and when funds are becoming increasingly scarce, the people in these programmes saw a need and did something about it. I can’t help but have a great deal of respect for them.

Other than an article at the back of the issue that is a timely response to an article by Ted Dunlop from Volume 24, Issue 3 (Fall 2011), all of the articles in this issue are about young carers. Three are programme descriptions. The rest are more traditional articles. It should be noted that in four of these articles the lead or co-authors were students when they gathered the data used in the articles. I find it quite powerful that students, or people who have recently been students, are at the forefront of writing about young carers.

I hope that this issue helps to make these invisible young people more visible. They deserve our assistance and our thanks for the work they do in their families. Give a thought to them as you read the writings in this issue, and as you do so, look around you. Many of your colleagues were young carers. Although they wouldn’t have been familiar with the label, they would recognize themselves in the responsibilities. May be you can help them become visible.

5 /  Ending the Silence about Youth Caregiving / Dan Vaillancourt

10 /  The Economic Value of Youth Caregiving in the United States / Deborah Viola, Peter Arno, Connie Siskowski, Donna Cohen, Michael Gusmano

14 /  Children of parents with mental illness: Young caring, coping and transitioning into adulthood / Andrea Harstone and Grant Charles 

28 /  The Experiences of Orphaned Children Heading their Households in Uganda Who Have Taken on Young Carer Responsibilities / Lena Gilbert and Grant Charles

37 /  The Impact of Caregiving: Is it who I am or what I do? /  Heather Chalmers and Lauren Lucyk

47 /  Carrying the Weight  / Jessica Sauve Griffin

49 /  An Analysis of Responsibility, Attachment Security, and Relationship Efficacy among Young Carers / Yasmin Remtulla, Grant Charles, Sheila Marshall

58 /  Young People with Heart / Donna Jamieson

61 /  Young Carers’ Movement in Toronto / Larisa MacSween, Dena Maule

66 /  Supporting Families: Helping Build Resilient Children / Angela Arsenio

69 /  Apologize ... for Goodness Sake: Canada’s ‘Home Children’ and our history of discrimination against Marginalized Children / Tom Waldock

76 / Giving a Care / Garth Goodwin


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