CHILDREN AS CARERS: AN EXPLORATION OF THE LIVED EXPERIENCES OF YOUNG CARERS IN ABURI, GHANA
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- Studentoppgaver (SV-IS) 
Key words: Young carers, caring roles, care receivers, benefits, Ghana In Ghana, the family plays a major role in providing support for the elderly and other vulnerable members such as persons with disabilities and those suffering from physical illness. Though children play crucial roles in providing care to familial members in Ghanaian society, there is little or no research and policy response concerning young carers in Ghana. Young carers are children who provide regular care and support to family members such as parents, siblings, and grandparents as a result of illness, disability, mental issues, or substance abuse. The caring roles provided by young carers range from personal care, which entails toileting, bathing, lifting, among others. It also involves sibling care, domestic chores, emotional care, household management, financial matters, and medical or nursing care. Studies evidenced that the caring roles can have a significant impact on their health, education, social, and emotional well-being. However, this category of children seems to have been overlooked in the discourses on children’s rights in Ghana. Therefore, using a qualitative research design, specifically, phenomenology, the study explored the experiences of eight young carers who were purposively selected in Aburi, Ghana, with the aim of giving insight on the phenomenon to enable stakeholders identify, recognize, and provide support structures for young carers. Employing a thematic approach in analyzing the data gathered, the findings of the study indicated that young carers in Ghana provided similar caring roles as those in other countries. The caring roles provided included domestic care, personal care, medical care, and financial support. However, the absence of organized social welfare systems, unavailability of household appliances, such as washing machine in many homes in Ghana, coupled with the difficulty in accessing basic social amenities such as water, and electricity, make the caring roles exceptionally burdensome and worsen the physical, mental, social, and psychological well-being of young carers in Ghana. Also, the findings showed that the caring roles had adverse outcomes on young carers’ education. Some of the negative outcomes included lateness, absenteeism, poor academic performance, lack of concentration in class, among others. Further, it was discovered that young carers received support from relatives, neighbors, peers, and the church. However, they receive no form of support from the school because the school authorities and teachers were unaware of their caring roles at home. The study therefore, recommends among other things that the government through the Ghana Education Service should come out with a policy to ensure that schools identify, recognize, and support young carers to enable them to excel in school. Again, the government, through the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Protection should provide financial support to young carers and their families to alleviate the financial burden they face.