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VICE News

What it's like to take care of multiple family members at age 15

As the only able-bodied person in his home, Jonathan has to take care of his mother, brother, and grandmother

by Lindsay Van Dyke
Dec 19 2017, 1:36am

Jonathan is 15 years old and lives in Boca Raton, Florida, with his mother, who has MS; his younger brother, who has a cranial disorder; and his grandmother, who was recently diagnosed with early onset Dementia. Jonathan, the only able-bodied person in his home during the week, cares for his mother, brother, and grandmother before and after school, while simultaneously managing his football and school schedule.

He is what's known as a "teen caregiver."

Even though there are an estimated 1.3 million kids in these roles, the U.S has still not passed any laws or legislation to support them.

"That's a big burden to have on a 15-year-old child, who should be living life going to homecoming, worrying about what movie he's going to go with his friends, not hurrying up to come home to take care of his little brother and take care of his mother and take care of his grandmother," Jonathan's mother, Jennifer Gutierrez, told VICE News. "He should not have to worry about those things. Unfortunately he does."

This segment originally aired December 18, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.