AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF CAREGIVING YOUTH (AACY) LAUNCHES CAREGIVING YOUTH INSTITUTE

(Palm Beach County, Fla. April 10, 2014) - The American Association for Caregiving Youth® (AACY), a nonprofit corporation that is the only national resource for children who provide care for family members who are ill, injured, elderly or disabled,announced today the establishment of its Caregiving Youth Institute (CYI). The goal of the CYI is to raise the level of awareness of the multi-system needs of caregiving youth along with solutions for their support through the multiple initiatives of C.A.R.E. (Connection, Advocacy, Research, Education).

The establishment of the CYI is in direct response to the growing number of caregiving youth who are unrecognized, invisible and falling through the cracks at school; youth who, with support, will become healthy, educated and productive adults. Unlike other countries including the United Kingdom, there are no professional or public opportunities in the U.S. focused on any of the four dimensions of C.A.R.E. as they relate to the issues and solutions of this hidden population.

"Our country has a vast amount of resources for family caregivers. Unfortunately, they are targeted at adult caregivers, and do not address the special challenges faced by children balancing care responsibilities with succeeding in school and personally," said Connie Siskowski, RN, PhD, President of AACY, and a former youth caregiver. "With the foundation of the Caregiving Youth Institute, we will be able to provide more resources and conduct new research to better serve our caregiving youth." Initially the CYI will focus primarily on the issues of middle and high school youth caregiving, however it recognizes that elementary school children may also have caregiving responsibilities. CYI will create a learning environment that will be an invaluable resource to the greater local and state community as well as nationally. It is also projected that the CYI will become financially self-sustaining as well as generate income for other program development and operations of AACY.

The Caregiving Youth Institute is made possible by an initial grant from the Schmidt Family Foundation, a charitable organization that provides grants to local non-profit 501(c)3 organizations that meet as a way to give back to the community which entrepreneurs and philanthropists Charles E. and Dorothy F. Schmidt were a part of for so many years. "The Schmidt Family Foundation is honored to support the American Association of Caregiving Youth in the establishment of the Caregiving Youth Institute," said Richard L. Schmidt, chairman of the Schmidt Family Foundation. "This advancement is a tremendous step forward in the mission to shine a light on the challenges of caregiving youth, an under-recognized healthcare issue not only in our community, but across the nation." C.A.R.E. Initiatives

Connection - Develop free, monitored and secure support services among peer caregiving youth throughout the U.S. via an electronic format of direct connectivity. This platform will have an educational component as well as provide a means of interaction so youth caregivers learn they are part of a much larger population and are reminded that they are not alone.

Advocacy - Engage existing U.S. legislators and candidates for election, along with other influencers, to provide education about caregiving youth and ultimately produce policy changes with appropriations locally, at the state level and federally to include youth in support services for family caregivers, to allow youth caregiving to be considered as community service and to have long term recognition of their important role in health delivery

Research - Continue to support existing research projects with various universities, while seeking funding to update the statistics in the only national study, Young Caregivers in the US (2005), which is critical as there have been many demographic and healthcare system changes during the last decade. The results of this new data will provide impetus for action and further establish AACY as the premier U.S. organization addressing the needs of caregiving youth. Simultaneously, strengthening the relationships with several local universities will promote this work to students in related professions.

Education - Continue pursuing opportunities to educate the public, educators and healthcare professionals about this issue, including partnerships with universities, conferences, webinars, video productions, peer-reviewed journal publications, social and other multi-media and formal presentations. We will package and make available for purchase materials for others to use. About the American Association of Caregiving Youth The American Association of Caregiving Youth® (AACY) is a Florida based 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation that began serving the greater Boca Raton community in 1998. Today AACY is the only organization of its kind in the United States for addressing the issues surrounding the silent, vulnerable and hidden population, conservatively estimated to exceed 1.4 million children, who provide care for family members who are unable to manage life independently. For statistics on youth caregiving, as well as personal stories of AACY participants, view our Hidden Population of Caregiving Youth content capsule: http://www.aacy.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=662&Itemid=288

The discovery of the extent of thecaregiving youth population in the US occurred at Lynn University, where the Institute will be officially launched on April 23rd. For more information about AACY, visit www.aacy.org , where donations can be made online, or contact Dr. Siskowski at 561.391.7401.
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF CAREGIVING YOUTH® Announces

CAREGIVING YOUTH INSTITUTE CONFERENCE

March 19, 2015 - Boca Raton, Fla. - The American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY), the only US organization solely dedicated to the support of the large, hidden population of children who sacrifice their education, health, well-being and childhood to provide care for family members who are ill, injured, elderly or disabled will be holding its inaugural all day CAREGIVING YOUTH INSTITUTE CONFERENCE on Thursday, April 23, 2015 at the Safe Schools Institute in Boca Raton Florida.

The Caregiving Youth Institute (CYI) was established in 2014 in direct response to the growing number of caregiving youth who are unrecognized, invisible and falling through the system cracks in healthcare, education and the community; youth who, without the right support, have a high risk of failing to become healthy, educated and productive adults. Unlike other countries, including the United Kingdom, there are no professional or public support services in the United States addressing the issues and solutions of this hidden population.  In Palm Beach county Florida, the AACY through its Caregiving Youth Project is determined to change this both here and across the country.

The CYI has assembled an exciting array of speakers from the domains of healthcare, education and the community to share research findings and challenges as well as to determine best approaches and remedies to enable the success of young caregivers.

Among authorities on the topic include Julia Belkowitz, MD of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and Melinda S. Kavanaugh, PhD, University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee who will disclose research findings on the "Hidden Population of Caregiving Youth."  Dr. Kavanaugh has presented on youth caregivers, nationally and internationally. 

Among other expert speakers include: Alison Adler, EdD, Seth Bernstein, PhD,  Priscilla Boerger, EdD of Lynn University and program sponsor; Donna Cohen, PhD of the University of South Florida in Tampa; Carole Kain, PNP, PhD; and, Suzanne Mintz, Co-Founder of the National Family Caregivers Association.
While the day begins with research including the economic impact of youth caregiving, it will continue with personal stories shared by current and former caregiving youth along with ways to support this otherwise hidden and silent population.  The day will conclude with closing remarks and next steps by former Mayor of the City of Boca Raton Susan Whelchel.

According to Joe Kraus, AACY Board Chair, "AACY both serves young caregivers and strives to bring increased recognition of the challenges they face on a daily basis.  Today, AACY, through its local Caregiving Youth Project and growing national network provides assistance, support, respite and education to students and their family members.  Based upon the escalating increase in requests for assistance directly from caregiving youth within middle and high schools, this problem is only getting worse and must be addressed." 
All interested healthcare professionals, educators, non-profit organizations and community leaders who are involved with caregivers and care receivers of all ages are invited and encouraged to take part in the conference.

Individual ticket cost including breakfast and lunch is $50. For information including group discounts and sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.cgyinstitute.org or contact Natalia Nincevic at (561) 391.7401.

About AACY: The American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) is a Florida based 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation that began serving the greater Boca Raton community in 1998. AACY is the only organization of its kind in the United States that addresses the issues surrounding caregiving youth, a vulnerable and hidden population conservatively estimated to exceed 1.4 million kids ages 8-18 years.  For more information, contact Connie Siskowski, RN, PhD at the American Association of Caregiving Youth (www.aacy.org); Tel: (561) 391-7401; Email: connie@aacy.org


CONFERENCE PUTS A FACE ON
 YOUTH  PROVIDING CARE TO LOVED ONES

April 23, 2015 Boca Raton, FL -- More than 150 community supporters and professionals recently participated in the Caregiving Youth Institute Conference (CYI). The Institute was established last year bythe American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) to promote awareness and present solutions to the problems confronting more than 1.4 million youth caregivers, ages 8- 18 years, in this country.

The group of educators, clinicians, social and human service workers was welcomed by Dr. Connie Siskowski, AACY Founder and President and Joe Kraus, Chairman of the organization's Board of Directors. Before the informational sessions started, Dr. Ian Saltzman Superintendent of Palm Beach County Schools and Area 1 attested to the vital support that nearly 1 ,000 middle and high school students and their families in Palm Beach County have received to assure education continues and future success is possible.

Experts in the fields of healthcare, education, human services and government resources from across Florida and as far as Wisconsin and Maryland shared profiles and research findings about this hidden population and the stress, trauma and loneliness from which they suffer. A panel, facilitated by Josephine Kapellini of Caring Across Generations in Washington that included Linda Roman, Director of Community Impact for Education at United Way of PBC, Beth Levine, COO, of Ruth Rales Jewish Family Services and Ben Durgen Aide to Senator Joseph
Abruzzo urged that we all continue to work together to improve the resources and support for this hidden population of children.

A highlight of the day was the Keynote Address delivered by Carolyn Kelly who has 18 years of experience in leadership roles at the Federal, State, Regional and Local levels. Prior to moving to Florida she was the Director of the South Carolina Coastal Program and the first female to
hold this prestigious position. For nine years she oversaw all aspects of the program, including harbor deepening port expansion and beach renourishment, all Coastal Regulatory permitting and off-shore issues and initiatives.

Now, as "First Lady of Florida Atlantic University," she is focusing on creating economic partnerships as she builds relationships with the South Florida community. Particularly significant is Carolyn's experience, beginning at age 14, as a caregiver for her mother. Her story captured the audience.

"This was something I wanted to do," she said. Her two brothers were not up to the task and her father handled none of the responsibilities. Because the diagnosis was a rare disease, treatments like radiation and chemical infusion necessitated Carolyn to spend long periods of
time in hospitals. "I spent a lot of time sleeping in chairs, decorating her room, researching medications and interpreting for my mother what the doctors really were saying. As I grew older, I ended up having dinner dates in the hospital cafeteria," she recalled.

Carolyn didn't share the burden of her responsibilities with her friends. She couldn't spend much time socializing after school. When classmates are at basketball practice, play rehearsal, working on school projects, or just hanging out with friends, caregiving youth usually are
providing medical care and personal care, language translation in medical settings and emotional support. "Many times these youngsters are also responsible for the typical everyday responsibilities of running a household including shopping for groceries, preparing meals
preparation and performing housekeeping chores," explains Connie Siskowski.

"My priorities were different," Carolyn affirms. She says she really missed having anyone her own age who could understand her feelings and frustrations.

"Psychologically these young caregivers can suffer from anxiety, feelings of isolation and depression and there are physical impacts as well," says Julia Belkowitz, MD, Assistant Regional Dean for Students and Assistant Professor at University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
"Normal growth and development can be compromised and the child neglects their own personal medical needs, missing appointments and not receiving necessary immunizations." Belkowitz and her colleagues worked with the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) to better understand the experiences of Palm Beach youth caregivers. They found that caregiving affects academic performance and that the youngsters who provide care often are unable to complete assignments or participate in co-curricular activities. Too frequently, they would miss school altogether.

Carolyn Kelly says she missed many days of school and never shared the real reason with any teachers or other students. "I had been an 'A' student, but my grades slipped because of the mediocre work I produced. One of my teachers eventually recognized something was going on," she says.

Today, Carolyn Kelly is a strong advocate for the role AACY plays in educating school administrators and teachers about the needs of children who bear the responsibility of taking care of a parent, sibling or grandparent, regardless of whether it occurs during the school day
or after the final bell has sounded. She is happy to see that youth caregivers can find support at school during skills-building classes, support groups, and lunch and learn sessions sponsored by the Caregiving Youth Project (CYP), an AACY program .She is grateful for the way the group is able to link families with resources, provide computers, tutoring and solutions for special needs. Outside of school CYP creates opportunities for its participants to spend time with their peers during overnight camp, fishing, picnics and dinners along with other and recreational activities.

The Caregiving Youth Institute (CYI) was established in 2014 by the American Association of Caregiving Youth with the goal of raising awareness of the needs of caregiving youth and promoting solutions for support through a series of initiatives called C.A.R.E. The United
States lags behind other countries focusing attention on the four distinct elements of C.A.R.E. which are connection, advocacy, research, education as they relate to the issues confronting this growing hidden population of our youth. The only national study released in 2005 needs to be updated to reflect the growing numbers of caregiving youth who are yet unrecognized by the healthcare and education professionals as well as community leaders.

The Caregiving Youth Institute is made possible by an initial grant from the Schmidt Family Foundation, a charitable organization that funds local non-profit 501(c)3 organizations because it "shines a light on the challenges of caregiving youth, an under-recognized healthcare issue not
only in our community, but across the nation."

For more information, please contact Dr. Connie Siskowski at 561.391.7401 or email
connie@aacy.org