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One million and counting: the hidden army of young carers in Canada

The term ‘young carer’ refers to those youth under the age of 25 years who provide substantial unpaid support to a family member due to factors including, but not limited to, familial or parental absence, disability, mental health issue(s) or problems with alcohol and/or other drugs. In the UK, national statistics have been integral to tracking the prevalence of young carers while serving as an important tool towards the development of (and justification for) a national legislative framework supporting these youth. In Canada, research and awareness for young carers remains in its infancy and available national datasets have yet to be examined in relation to youths providing unpaid caregiving. As a result, this research provides the first trend analysis of youth-based caregiving in Canada using census data for the 1996–2006 time-period. Methodological limitations of official statistics are also discussed in terms of conceptual and operational constraints limiting the full identification of all those potential young carers.

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Journal of Youth Studies

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