New York Times Examines Role Of Children As Caregivers

February 25, 2009 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

The New York Times on Monday examined the increased number of U.S. children “providing care for sick parents or grandparents,” and how schools, social service agencies and health care providers often are “unaware of those responsibilities because family members may be too embarrassed, or stoic.” According to a 2005 survey, about 3% of households with children ages eight to 18 include children who serve as caregivers.

“Experts say they expect the numbers to grow as chronically ill patients leave hospitals sooner and live longer, the recession compels patients to forgo paid help and veterans need home care,” the Times reports. Some children who serve as caregivers “develop maturity and self-esteem,” but others “grow anxious, depressed or angry; sacrifice social and extracurricular activities; and miss — or quit — school,” according to the Times.

Carol Levine, director of families and health care at United Hospital Fund, said, “Kids who do it well gain confidence,” but “they may be resentful, not do as well in school and feel limited because their role is to be the caregiver.” Nancy Law, an executive vice president of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said that health care groups have begun “realizing the extent of what children are doing.”

In addition, current programs available to help children who serve as caregivers face challenges because of concerns from parents that “you’re taking away their role as a parent” or that organizers will contact protective service agencies, according to Gail Hunt, president of the National Alliance for Caregiving. She said that such programs should focus on “making the responsibilities appropriate,” rather than efforts to “take the child out of the home” (Belluck, New York Times, 2/23).

Reprinted with kind permission from You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

© 2009 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.



Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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