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By Jesse Kopp '11, '12Published Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Connie Siskowski '04 never expected her doctoral research to reveal the high urgency of family health situations and caregiving causing poor effects academically with children in Palm Beach County. Siskowski’s broad background in healthcare and her efforts to diminish caregiver isolation led to the 1998 establishment of what is now called the American Association of Caregiving Youth (http://www.aacy.org). The AACY is the national resource for the support of children caring for ill, injured, elderly, or disabled family members. This association includes the Caregiving Youth Project, which is the first US program to support the hidden population of child caregivers. Connie strongly believes that no child should have to drop out of school because he or she has to take care of a family member. Connie had no idea that her research would lead to such change. She realized she might be onto something when one of her professors said “In my 25 years of teaching, I believe this is the most important work I have seen." Siskowski’s research showed that over 1.3 million children ages 8-18 are caregivers in the United States.
In June 2009, Siskowski was awarded a lifetime Ashoka Fellowship which is a grant to expand her non-profit organization and in October 2009 she became one of 10 Purpose Prize winners. This national endeavor honors persons over 60 years of age who initiate innovative solutions for social change. Her work had led to providing much needed support for over 580 children caregivers in middle and high school. Her dream was for all family caregivers to be honored and respected. Siskowski’s doctoral research led her to facilitate change on a national level through her tireless efforts on behalf of the AACY.
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