Names: Charlie Salinger, Bailey Salinger, Julia Salinger & Claudia Salinger
Ages: 24, 16, 15 & 11 years old respectively at the beginning of the show
TV Show & Years on Air: Party of Five (1994-2000)
How long have you been Young Carers?
Julia: Since our parents were killed by a drunk driver when Owen was less than a year old. He’s now seven years old.
Who do you care for and how?
Claudia: We all care for Owen, our little brother, but also each other.
Julia: We split some things up with a chore wheel for our practical needs, but on an emotional level mostly we just try to make sure we are there for each other no matter what. We’re all we have, and we stick together.
Bailey: When our parents died, I took on the lion’s share of the responsibility to keep our family together. I learned how to manage money, pay the bills, and deal with service professionals like plumbers and nannies. I also participate in Owen’s physical care, and I keep an eye out for Julia and Claudia.
Charlie: At first even though I was the legal guardian of my younger siblings, I took a hands-off approach. I really just did it because they didn’t want to be split up into different foster homes. But after I messed up our finances without telling Bailey, I realized I needed to step up. I became more of a father figure to my siblings in some ways, moving in and trying to help keep things together by getting a job and trying to make up for my bad decisions.
How has being a Young Carer affected your lives?
Charlie: With so much responsibility placed on me in my early twenties, when it came to willingly taking on responsibility in my own life, I balked. It took time for me to grow up, even though in some ways I had to grow up quickly. But when I had a child of my own, I already knew how to take care of her.
Bailey: The pressure of keeping our family together and having to become an adult when I was only sixteen got to me, and I became an alcoholic. It was a huge rough patch for our family, but part of the reason why it happened was because I had been so mature for so long it was a way for me to let go. I know drinking to solve my problems wasn’t a good decision, and it ended up really hurting my siblings as well as the other people I love. I came to realize though that I needed to take care of myself first, but every decision I faced that ended up being a choice between me or my siblings, I always felt I should put them first. I ended up having some resentment over the sacrifices I had to make to keep us together.
Julia: It was Charlie who had to remind us that if we hadn’t been Young Carers, if our parents had lived, we’d be a completely different family. Not as close probably, only seeing each other on major holidays because we’d have moved out sooner and would have been living our own lives. So when it came time for us to go our separate ways, Charlie’s words helped push us all out of the nest.
Claudia: With the shock of losing our parents like that, our focus shifted to just surviving the tragedy, as well as keeping the rest of our family together for as long as possible. But eventually we realized we could let go of living in the same house and the same city to pursue separate lives and dreams while still being there for each other.
What is your favourite activity?
Julia: We each have special talents. I’m a writer.
Charlie: I do carpentry.
Bailey: I used to play football but ended up discovering I had a head for business.
Claudia: And I inherited our mother’s talent for playing the violin.