Recognising young carers and seeing they get the support they need
The event was co-chaired and co-run by young people, who introduced guest speakers Maggie Atkinson, the children’s commissioner for England, and Edward Timpson MP, children’s minister, who both spoke passionately about the support that young carers need.
The day’s events focused on building partnerships to make sure that children and young people are prevented from taking on inappropriate caring roles in their families.
What young carers need
Young carers provide incredible support for the people that they care for but their responsibilities can have consequences on their own lives and life chances.
This is why they need more support. Without early intervention and support services, the negative impact on young carers can be wide-ranging and severe – including affecting their health and well-being, as well as educational and employment outcomes. For example, we know that young carers are twice as likely as their peers to not be in education, employment or training.
We have been working hard over recent weeks to make it clear to politicians and civil servants that young carers are not being provided enough support.
There are many more young carers than people might realise. The 2001 census identified 175,000 young carers in the UK. Of these, 13.000 children cared for more than 50 hours per week. However, these numbers are likely to be an underestimate. Research by the BBC in 2010 suggests a shockingly high number of 700,000 children caring in the UK.
Changing the law
In addition to developing partnerships locally we also need departments like the Department for Health and the Department for Education to work better together.
We are part of the National Young Carers Coalition, which is calling on the government to make sure adult social services and children’s social services are better able to identify and support young carers.
Whenever an adult has his or her needs assessed by social care, the assessment must take into account whether there are children in the family and what additional services a parent might need to prevent children from becoming young carers - children’s services must do the same.
Changing the Children and Families Bill and the Draft Care and Support Bill in parliament could make this happen. We are working with MPs, ministers and officials and will keep you updated on our progress.
Young carers should be recognised for the amazing work that they do. It’s only fair that they and their families get the support they need.