Care Act offers hope of better support for young carers

By Joe Lepper

| 16 May 2014

A raft of measures designed to improve support for young carers have come into force after the Care Bill received royal assent on Thursday.

According to the census, there are 166,363 young carers in England.

Under the Care Act 2014, local authorities will have a duty to consider the needs of children living in households where there is an adult who has a disability or impairment that requires help or care as part of a “whole family assessment”.

Anna Morris, senior policy manager (young carers and young adult carers) at Carers Trust, said: “If you are looking at an adult’s needs you have to consider whether a child is in the household and consider whether any of the children may undertake any care roles in the home.”

The act also enables children to have their own carers' needs assessment carried out, and introduces a new right for young carers aged 16 to 18 who are transitioning to adulthood to have their specific needs assessed in light of how their role might change, added Morris.

The measures, alongside those introduced in the Children and Families Act 2014, aim to identify child carers and their support needs earlier.  

Carers Trust is also part of an initiative to help school staff better understand the needs of young carers.

The Young Carers in Schools programme, which also includes The Children’s Society, provides training and resources to help schools and teachers improve how they support pupils who have caring responsibilities.

The programme has now completed its pilot phase and also includes an award scheme, with bronze, silver and gold certificates for schools, based on the level of support they offer young carers.

Carers Trust research shows that a quarter of young carers were bullied because of their caring role and only half received any additional support in school.

Carers Trust chief executive Thea Stein added: “This programme will help schools to stop and think about how taking on the responsibilities of caring impacts on every aspect of a young carer’s life.”

To coincide with the launch of the programme the charities involved have published an interactive map of the areas with the highest young carer populations. This is broken down by council area and takes into account young carers aged 15 or younger.

This map shows that Kent has 3,436 young carers, the highest in England. This represents 1.21 per cent of the total population of under 15-year-olds in the county.

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