What has evolved to become the American Association of Caregiving Youth (AACY) was established in 1998 to provide volunteers to people who were homebound and caregiving families. Later Palm Beach County research identified that more than 25% of middle and high school students who had caregiving responsibilities were also having academic struggles. This research lead to the first national study which reported that there were at least 1.3-1.4 million children ages 8-18 years in this role (Young Caregivers in the US, 2005). Soon after that report in 2006, The Silent Epidemic, which was funded by the Gates Foundation, showed that among young adults who dropped out of school, 22% indicated that it was to care for a family member. These two reports plus an ABC News clip supported the first US findings in Palm Beach County, FL that the lives of children in the caregiving role, similar to adult family caregivers who are employed, have negative ramifications on their academic, physical and emotional well-being.
More recent national research (Caregiving in the US 2020) identified more than 3.4 million caregiving youth among adult family caregivers of adults. In Florida, the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted by the Florida Department of Health and the CDC documented that more than 290,000 public middle and high school students are caregiving. This number dwarfs the numbers of students of all ages who are homeless (95,000) or in foster care (19,000) during this same time period.
Today the successful programs of AACY that support caregiving youth includes its direct services in Palm Beach County through the Caregiving Youth Project, its Caregiving Youth Institute that seeks to C.A.R.E. (Connect, Advocate, Research, Educate), and finally, its Affiliate Network and national partnerships.