Some 1.25 million caregivers in Canada are just 15 to 24 years old, according to 2012 data from Statistics Canada, the most recent figures available from the agency. Experts stress that number is a significant undercount, given it excludes northern Canada as well as children under 15. As the country’s population ages, dementia cases rise and more families share multigenerational homes, young carers’ numbers will only grow in the coming years.

Slowly, awareness is beginning to build around young students who must juggle their studies with care roles at home. On March 14, the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence, Young Caregivers Association and AMI-Québec, an association supporting family members of people with mental illness, will convene a first national roundtable of 28 organizations supporting young informal carers. The network will share research, program models and plans to advance policy on the issue.