Young carers: views on child labour and family caregiving
26 January 2022, 4PM (GMT+1)
Children and Work Research Series: Session 8
Dr. Feylyn Lewis – Project Manager at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, formerly research fellow at the University of Sussex (UK) and the Hunt Research Director at the National Alliance for Caregiving (USA)
This presentation will reflect upon the discourse of the global phenomenon known as "young carers" through the perspective of child labour and family care and caregiving. Young carers are children and young people who provide unpaid care, support, and assistance to disabled or ill family members and friends. Young carers typically provide a wide range of care : intimate, emotional, financial, and physical support, with many beginning their caring role during the early childhood years. The level of awareness, dedicated policy, and formal support varies across Europe, North America, and Asia—where the majority of research with young carers is conducted—however, young carers remain a generally hidden, underresearched, and underserved population of youth. Their contributions to family life are invaluable and the safety net of social care systems in many countries across the world, however the debate remains ongoing in respect to their position as child workers or simply "helpers" in the home. This presentation will offer critical rationales for examining the activities of young carers as "work" and the implications for global policy and practice.
Dr. Feylyn Lewis grew up as youth caregiver for her disabled mother. Her experience led her to want to change the world for other children with caring responsibilities. In 2013, she moved to the United Kingdom to obtain her PhD in Social Work, studying young adult caregivers in the US and UK. Dr. Lewis is the program manager for the Students for Health Equity program at Vanderbilt University’s School of Nursing, where she leads research on food insecurity and nutrition with refugee children. She also continues to practice as an independent researcher and consultant. She is a Caregiving.com Champion, representing caregivers in the Nashville area. Dr. Lewis served as the Hunt Research Director at the National Alliance for Caregiving during spring 2021. Dr. Lewis recently completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Sussex, where she co-led the United Kingdom research activities of a nearly €4 million European Commission funded research project to investigate the mental health well-being of adolescent young caregivers in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Slovenia, Italy, the Netherlands, and Sweden. Prior to her research career, she was a nationally certified mental health counselor. She presently sits on the board of trustees for the Carers Centre for Brighton and Hove, the National Advisory Council for the American Association of Caregiving Youth, and numerous international research advisory committees. She resides in Nashville where she continues to provide care for her mother.