• Educational Professionals Awareness, Identification, and Support of Young Caregivers

      Mansell, Nicole; Department of Child and Youth Studies
      “Young carer” (YC) is a term used to describe youth under the age of 25 who take on caregiving roles to support a family member with a disability, illness, addiction, or language barrier (Aldridge & Becker, 1993; Charles et al., 2012; Stamatopoulos, 2015). Although the Ontario Ministry of Education mandates that educators ensure student success (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2014), the YC role continues to negatively influence attendance and curriculum engagement at school (Lakman et al., 2017). To ensure that YCs receive the support they need to be successful in school, an educator’s role must be considered. Therefore, this study’s research questions were, “In what ways are educators aware of young caregiving?” and “What role to educators perceive they have in identifying and supporting YCs?”. Through an applied research design, 8 teachers and 3 principals were individually interviewed for 90-minutes each. Inter-rater reliable thematic analysis resulted in three main themes of awareness, identification, and support. Although not all educators were aware of the YC term, all educators were aware of the caregiving role among children and youth. Consistent with OME mandate, educators reported that student success was important. Although educators felt they had a role in identifying and supporting YCs to ensure success, the majority did not perceive it was mandated. This finding was inconsistent with previous YC research that suggested YCs did not feel supported in school (Lakman et al., 2017). Therefore, the present findings encourage teacher training to ensure YCs receive the support they need. Key Words: Young Carer, Education, Awareness, Identification, Support