Child Abuse Research in South Africa – Application of the UN Convention on Rights of the Child to young carers in the United States : US policies in international contextedit
Approximately 1.4 million young children under the age of 18 in the United States provide some measure of care to a parent or ill family member. These “young carers” in the United States are an isolated group, with no state or national policies providing support or care, in contrast to the numerous programs for adult caregivers in the United States. In the absence of any support programming, this paper examines United States young carers within a rights context, focusing on rights defined by the UN convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC). The paper examines how the conventions and policies are applied to other countries including the UK, Australia, Canada and South Africa, and can be used to support the development of services, policies and legislation targeting the rights of young carers in the United States. An analysis of the UNCRC found several articles pertaining to young carers. Article 19 provides for the right to be protected from violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation; Article 9, on the need to keep young carers with their parents; Article 17, on addressing the role media can play in raising awareness of young carers; Article 28 underscores the right to do well in school, and is vital to young carers whose schoolwork frequently suffers as a result of care-giving duties; Article 31 addresses rest and leisure, underscoring the right to have down time and rest from their care-giving lives; and finally, Article 32 recognizes the right of the child to be protected from economic exploitation and the need to provide financial support for young carers. The United States pays little to no attention to young carers. Thus, basing young carer needs within a rights based framework, including those used by other countries, may provide the backing for the development and creation of support policies across the United States for an isolated, underserved population.