Connie Siskowski has been instrumental in giving a voice to young caregivers. A caregiver herself when she was 11 years old, Siskowski knows how difficult the role can be, juggling school, care, and a social life. That’s why she has devoted herself to an incredibly meaningful project, the first of its kind in the United States, initially to help young caregivers in her county. The Caregiving Youth Project at Boca Raton Middle School proved to be so effective in helping those in need succeed academically and personally that “the program has been introduced into eight area middle schools and followed hundreds of students into 17 area high schools.”

Rather than let kids’ role as caregivers add to school dropout rates, Siskowski stepped in early to found the American Association of Caregiving Youth in 2002. The non-profit raises awareness of young caregivers and provides them with support in their home and school life:

  • Special classes, led by a mental-health professional or social worker, cover topics such as coping with stress and anger, managing finances and setting goals.
  • Periodic field trips and overnight camps offer recreational, social and educational activities. There are home-care demonstrations and workshops.
  • The program also makes teachers and school administrators more aware of the children’s extenuating circumstances and how they can lead to truancy, absenteeism and dips in academic performance.

The hope is to reduce the negative effects — anxiety, depression and feelings of isolation — that caregiving responsibilities can have on a child’s mental, physical and emotional health.” – Help for a ‘Hidden Population’ of Caregiving Kids, CCN.com

Connie Siskowski and the AACY are doing incredible work. The Caregiver’s Survival Network offers our congratulations to Siskowski on her CNN Hero feature. She is helping the caregiving population of America find a voice to share their story.

Volunteer or donate at www.aacy.org and be a part of the change…

Written by Alexandra Axel
Alexandra Axel was the first founding staff member at The Caregiver Space. As a New York native, Allie grew up people-watching and story-collecting, eventually pursuing her undergraduate degree from The College of New Jersey in sociology and creative writing. At The Caregiver Space, she worked with social media, graphic design, blogging, and program development to brand and grow an online community composed of, and focused on, caregivers. From the seedlings of an idea to the thriving community that it is today, Allie was there from the beginning to support the evolution of The Caregiver Space. Allie enjoys writing poetry and short fiction, devouring books, biking, crafting, urban agriculture and imperfectly cooking. She currently resides in Brooklyn with her pup, Hen.

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