This past year has signaled a shift in the national discourse of caregiving. In May 2021, the Federal Budget reflected a nationwide early learning and childcare program, a significant win for the country, particularly mothers and caregivers. The promotion of caregiving in public discourse, especially as the world became increasingly online over the past 18 months, presents an opportunity to broaden understandings of caregiving and bring to the forefront an invisible group in this category: Young Adult Caregivers (YACs or student carers).
This report was created in part as an effort to dismantle the monolithic identity applied to post-secondary students in which they are perceived to have only the responsibilities of a student. Distinguishing YACs from the general pool of adult caregivers engaged in informal caregiving is significant as current research shows that, due to both physiological and social reasons, YACs carry the burdens of caregiving differently than their adult counterparts. Using a mixed-methods approach, this report hopes to shed light on the harrowing reality of student carers and the very real effects faced as a result. There is a deep need for post-secondary institutions, both in Ontario and nationwide, to adopt a more urgent approach to recognizing and supporting this type of student. This report hopes to act as a pressure mechanism to inspire further research into the experiences and needs of this group and promote their inclusion in post-secondary data-collection.