Tag Archives: children

Supporting Children Who Serve as Caregivers

In the normal scheme of things, parents and grandparents take care of children when they’re sick or need help or sustenance. But in well over a million American families, this pattern is reversed, with children as young as 8, 9 or 10 partly or fully responsible for the welfare of adults or siblings they live with.

They may have to shop, prepare meals, clean house, do the laundry and tend to the hygienic needs of family members unable to care for themselves.

At the same time, these children must go to school, do their homework and attempt, but usually fail, to participate in nonacademic activities like sports and friendships widely recognized as important to well-rounded development.

Connie Siskowski, a registered nurse in Boca Raton, Fla., knows well the challenges these children face. As an 11-year-old with divorced parents, she began living with her grandparents in New Jersey. Her grandfather was, as she put it, “my hero, the only person I was close to, and it was my honor to help him with personal care issues.

“I slept in the living room so I could be near him in case he needed something during the night. One night I went into the bedroom to give him his medicine, and I found him dead of cardiac disease.”

There was no support system to help Connie, then 13, deal with the emotional fallout from this loss and put the pieces of her life back together. For years thereafter, she said she made poor personal choices, including three bad marriages. Her only good choice during this time: going straight from high school to nursing school, then getting advanced degrees in cardiac nursing and health care administration and a Ph.D. in educational leadership.

After her third marriage failed, she finally found her emotional equilibrium through counseling. She married a fourth time to a man who loves and respects her and, with his encouragement, felt compelled to do something to help caregiving children and “prevent some of the repercussions I experienced.”

To read the full story, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

A Pediatrician’s View On Alcohol and Marijuana

As my children, and my friends’ children, are getting older, a question that comes up again and again from friends is this: Which would I rather my children use — alcohol or marijuana?

The immediate answer, of course, is “neither.” But no parent accepts that. It’s assumed, and not incorrectly, that the vast majority of adolescents will try one or the other, especially when they go to college. So they press me further.

The easy answer is to demonize marijuana. It’s illegal, after all. Moreover, its potential downsides are well known. Scans show that marijuana use is associated with potential changes in the brain. It’s associated with increases in the risk of psychosis. It may be associated with changes in lung function or long-term cancer risk, even though a growing body of evidence says that seems unlikely. It can harm memory, it’s associated with lower academic achievement, and its use is linked to less success later in life.

But these are all associations, not known causal pathways. It may be, for instance, that people predisposed to psychosis are more likely to use pot. We don’t know. Moreover, all of these potential dangers seem scary only when viewed in isolation. Put them next to alcohol, and everything looks different.

Because marijuana is illegal, the first thing I think about before answering is crime. In many states, being caught with marijuana is much worse than being caught with alcohol while underage. But ignoring the relationship between alcohol and crime is a big mistake. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that alcohol use is a factor in 40 percent of all violent crimes in the United States, including 37 percent of rapes and 27 percent of aggravated assaults.

To read more, click here.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Are Your Children No Longer Eligible To Stay On Your Plan?

When your children are no longer eligible to stay on your plan, it’s time for them to get their own health insurance. Enrolling is easy – they can simply head to the NY State of Health Marketplace to find a quality, affordable plan that works for their lifestyle.

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary

Millions of Children to Lose Health Benefits if CHIP Funding Not Renewed

The Hill (9/23, Ferris) reports on a study from the American Action Forum that found “as many as 2.7 million children could lose health coverage or benefits” beginning next year if Congress does not move to reauthorize CHIP funding. While many on both sides of the aisle in both chambers of the legislature have “pushed bills to renew CHIP,” other lawmakers and policy experts allege that CHIP is “unnecessary” under the ACA, “which created more opportunities for low-income families to secure health coverage.” The think-tank found that while 6.4 million current CHIP beneficiaries “would gain access to insurance under the healthcare law,” nearly 2 million other children “wouldn’t qualify for additional help under” the ACA because they would fall into what the organization calls “a family glitch.”
Medicaid, CHIP Enrollment Grew By 14% Between Summer 2013 And Summer 2014. The Congressional Quarterly (9/23, Subscription Publication) reports that according to Federal data both Medicaid and CHIP enrollment “grew by almost 8 million people” between “summer of 2013 to July 2014.”

Jeffrey R. Ungvary President

Jeffrey R. Ungvary