Timpson announces plans to improve young carer identification

Neil Puffett
Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Department for Education is drawing up plans to make it easier to identify children and young people who have caring responsibilities, with a cross-government strategy due to be published in the summer, children's minister Edward Timpson has confirmed.

Speaking in parliament Timpson said DfE officials are currently "exploring various policy avenues" in order to help local authorities, schools and professionals improve the identification and support of young carers and their families.

"This will lead to a contribution from DfE setting out our vision and future plans which will be part of the cross-government Carers Strategy led by the Department of Health and due to be published by Summer 2017," he said.

Timpson said the plans are being drawn up based on the findings of its own research as well as a report published earlier this year by the children's commissioner for England, Anne Longfield.

Based on data from more than 100 local authorities, Longfield's report found that as many as 130,000 children aged between five and 17 with caring responsibilities may be unknown to local authorities.

Anna Morris, young carers lead at the Carers Trust, said government plans to set out a vision for young carers is desperately needed if they and their families are to be better supported and identified.

"Despite legislation to improve young carers rights in 2015, many young carers remain unidentified and unsupported, putting their health and life chances at risk," she said.

"The Carers Strategy will need to ensure schools, local authorities and other professionals are equipped to identify children with caring responsibilities early, ensure they have access to support and that they are able to enjoy and achieve at school and in their personal lives."

DfE research, also published in January, found that young carers continue to be fearful of being identified because of concerns about what action social services may take.

The report states that access to support services was dependent upon parents and their children having their fears of the consequences of disclosure allayed by professionals and of having a good awareness and understanding of what support services were available.

A second phase of the research is now taking place to give a greater insight into the extent of how many hidden young carers there are in England.

A call for evidence on the Carers Strategy closed in July 2016, having been open for two months.

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