Young carers are young people who provide care to another family member with a long-term illness, disability or addiction. Available research shows that this is both common and problematic. Despite this, there is still a dearth in research about how to mediate the problems and risks that come with young caring. The perspective of young carers themselves has also been neglected. They have been described as an invisible group due to the lack of awareness of young caring with professionals and volunteers in the social and educational sector. This is tied to young carers themselves seldomly identifying with the label of 'young carer'.
In this research proposal, we address these knowledge gaps around supporting young carers using the methodology of a realist approach, through an organization for young carers: ZoJong!. First, we will do a systematic literature review. Next, we develop a program theory through participatory observation, semi-structured qualitative interviews and focus groups, all with volunteers and young carers of ZoJong!. Subsequently, we will evaluate this program theory through focus groups with young carers and volunteers of ZoJong!. Finally, all data will be cross-analyzed and confronted with theoretical insights from our literature review.