Background to the role
A young carer is a child or young person who provides care for another family member. The level of care they provide would usually be undertaken by an adult and as a result of this they take on a level of responsibility that is inappropriate to their age and development.
The person or persons that they look after will have one or more of the following:
- Physical disability
- Sensory disability
- Learning disability
- Mental health problems
- Chronic illness
- Drug or alcohol misuse problems
They may also be taking on a caring role if they are:
- growing up with disabled siblings,
- in a family where there has been recent serious or terminal illness diagnosed,
- coping with illness in wider family.
Key findings from ‘Hidden from view’ report from the Children’s Society, 2013.
1. Latest census statistics 2013 reveal there are 166,363 young carers in England, compared to around 139,000 in 2001. This is likely to be an underrepresentation of the true picture as many remain under the radar of professionals.
2.One in 12 young carers is caring for more than 15 hours per week. Around one in 20 misses school because of their caring responsibilities.
3.Young carers are 1.5 times more likely than their peers to be from black, Asian or minority ethnic communities, and are twice as likely to not speak English as their first language.
4.Young carers are 1.5 times more likely than their peers to have a special educational need or a disability.
5.The average annual income for families with a young carer is £5000 less than families who do not have a young carer.
6.There is no strong evidence that young carers are more likely than their peers to come into contact with support agencies, despite government recognition that this needs to happen.
7.Young carers have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level, the equivalent to nine grades lower overall than their peers e.g. the difference between nine B’s and nine C’s.
8.Young carers are more likely than the national average to be not in education, employment or training (NEET) between the ages of 16 and 19.
Around 21% of young carers identified in Stockport miss school because of their caring responsibilities. Many will be late to school and unable to complete their homework on time. When at school young carers may have difficulty concentrating due to anxiety about the person they care for. In addition to academic problems, many young carers have difficulty integrating socially within the school environment, with some being teased or bullied by their peers.
In spite of these problems the majority of young carers will not be identified as such by staff in schools, partly because young carers and their families often remain silent about their caring responsibilities due to fears of the reactions of statutory agencies and peers and the stigma surrounding some health conditions, addictions and disabilities or they are unaware that help may be available.
Principle 4 from the Key Principles of Practice (The Children’s Society 2008) recommends that:
“Schools and colleges take responsibility to identify young carers at an early stage and have a named staff member with lead responsibility for young carers to ensure that they have the same access to a full education and career choices as their peers; and to be responsible for promoting and co-ordinating the support they need in school and liaising with other agencies as appropriate.”
Stockport CYPD Scrutiny Committee Review (February 2010) recommends that schools identify a school lead with responsibility to monitor young carer provision and support