Supporting 'Young Carers' in Kenya: From Policy Paralysis to Action

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African children who care for sick or dying adults are receiving less than optimal support due to confusion about whether or not young caregiving constitutes a form of child labour and the tendency of the authorities to play it "safe" and side with more abolitionist approaches to children's work, avoiding engagement with support strategies that could be seen as support of child labour. To challenge this view, and move from policy paralysis to action, we present a study from western Kenya that explores community perceptions of children's work and caregiving as well as opportunities for support. The study draws on 17 community group conversations and 10 individual interviews, involving 283 members of a Luo community in the Bondo District of western Kenya. We provide a detailed account of how integral children's work is to household survival in the context of poverty, HIV and AIDS as well as community recommendations on how they and external service providers can work together in supporting children faced with excessive caregiving and income-generation responsibilities. We use our findings to call for less restrictive regulations of children's work and to develop a plan for policy and action for young carers that identifies key actors, their roles and responsibilities, and how they might best collaborate-in a way that is sensitive both to concerns about child labour as well as community strengths, resources and apprehensions about the stigmatisation of children targeted by agencies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalChild Care in Practice
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)318-339
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2013

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