What Kyllian Warman remembers most about her childhood is caring for her father, an alcoholic who eventually developed liver and colon cancer. She helped her mother feed him, dress him, give him medicine and clean up after him, all while also watching her younger brother.
“If I wasn’t taking care of my dad, I would support my mom, helping her do taxes, go through bills and do housework. I just thought, ‘This is what I have to do. Everybody’s got to make it out of this alive,'” says Warman, who is now 20.
Warman was just one of thousands of American children who perform such caregiving duties every day. According to the latest data available from the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) and the United Hospital Fund, in 2005 at least 1.3 million U.S. children ages 8 to 18 helped to care for a sick or disabled relative, with 72 percent of these caring for a parent or grandparent and 11 percent for a sibling. Read more