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Young Caring in Canada: Opportunity Gained and Lost

July 5, 2012

When we think of people providing care to adults and seniors, we tend to picture an older family member in mid-to-late career or in retirement, yet researchers have found that approximately 12% of young Canadians aged 12-17 are 'young carers'. Today, the Vanier Institute is releasing the newest Contemporary Family Trends paper, Young Carers in Canada - The Hidden Costs and Benefits of Young Caregiving by Grant Charles, Tim Stainton & Sheila Marshall from the School of Social Work, University of British Columbia. This paper explores the range of personal, social and economic costs and consequences when young family members take on a primary caregiving role. [read the paper]

The contributions young carers are making in their homes and in their communities can mean the difference between a family continuing to function or not. Early caregiving is not always easy or desirable but it can be an incredible opportunity to build closeness and connection across generations. It can lead to feelings of pride and competence as youth develop new skills and perspectives and it can foster empathy and compassion during difficult times.

Young carers may care for siblings, parents, grandparents, great grandparents and extended family. They assist with daily living when loved ones are recovering from illness or injury, managing a chronic, episodic or progressive health condition or mental illness or at the end of life. The demands of young caring often come at a time when youth are navigating adolescence and facing the challenges of completing school, entering the labour market and making important decisions about their own futures.

Until very recently, the needs and realities of young carers and their families were largely missing from the national dialogue on family caregiving. The fact that young carers often trade time with friends, time at school or time on their own for the responsibilities of early caregiving begs our attention.

Vanier Institute CEO Nora Spinks says "the love and dedication that young carers bring to their families and the contribution they are making to our communities are important and impressive. Acknowledging the personal and social costs involved when members of this younger generation assume these responsibilities is equally important."

In partnership with the CareGiverProject, the Institute is also premiering today a powerful, moving and poignant rap video by and about young carers written and performed by Tricky P, a hip hop artist and young caregiver, himself. ( The 'Lucky' rap video tells the story of love shared, of commitments honoured and of opportunities gained.

Media Availability

Contemporary Family Trends paper
Grant Charles, Author
University of British Columbia

Young Carer Rap Video
Audrey Miller, Executive Producer, CareGiverProject
Tricky P (Pat Stephens), Rapper

Nora Spinks, CEO, Vanier Institute of the Family

To arrange an interview, please contact:
Jennifer Brownrigg @ 613-228-8500 ext. 217 or

For more information contact:
Jennifer Brownrigg
The Vanier Institute of the Family
Phone: 613-228-8500

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The Vanier Institute of the Family


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