A young carer is a child or young person who provides care for one or more family members who have disabilities, long-term physical illnesses, mental health difficulties or who misuse drugs or alcohol. This may include providing physical, personal, financial and/or emotional care.
According to a BBC survey in 2010, approximately 1 in 12 children and young people provide care for someone in their family which means there are likely to be over 7000 young carers in Sheffield. Many remain hidden either because they don’t identify as a young carer or because they feel worried or frightened about asking for help.
Early identification is vital to reduce the negative impacts on young carers and improve the outcomes for them and their families. The key to identifying young carers is to raise awareness, be proactive, and give children and young people the chance to recognise their caring role and to feel safe enough to talk to someone about what is happening at home.
Caring can have significant impacts on a child or young person’s health, education and social development including:
- Poor educational experiences
- Restricted access to training & employment
- Poor physical health & injuries
- Substance misuse
- Harmful coping strategies & poor emotional health
- Social isolation & increased risks of exploitation, particularly online
Families with young carers may encounter additional issues and barriers linked to their illnesses or disabilities, such as being a single parent family, low income or unemployment, debt, housing problems, substance misuse, relationship difficulties, domestic violence, anxiety and isolation.
A local authority must carry out an assessment under section 17ZA of the Children Act 1989:
- if it considers that a young carer may have support needs, or
- if a young carer, or the parent of a young carer, requests one
Such an assessment must consider whether it is appropriate or excessive for the young carer to provide care for the person in question, in light of the young carer’s needs and wishes. The Young Carers’ (Needs Assessment) Regulations 2015 require local authorities to look at the needs of the whole family when carrying out a young carer’s needs assessment.
Young carers’ assessments can be combined with assessments of adults in the household, with the agreement of the young carer and adults
Other relevant information can be found on this website here: Information and resources
If you are concerned about a child or young person, follow this link: Referring a safeguarding concern to Children’s Social Care