Time running out for young carers as MPs debate their future

10 June 2013

Children and families across England are desperately hoping the government takes decisive action tomorrow, Tuesday 11 June, to support young carers and their families.

MPs will debate new powers, which could change the law and force authorities to identify and support children who are looking after their family members and missing out on their childhoods.

With shocking new Census data published just last month revealing the number of children taking on caring roles is on the rise, coupled with new analysis published in The Children’s Society’s ‘Hidden from View’ report, the need for urgent action is greater than ever.

The Children’s Society believes that the latest official figure of 166,000 young carers in England is likely to be just the tip of the iceberg. Many young carers are remaining hidden from the view of authorities because of stigma, bullying and a lack of identification of children taking on these roles.

The Chidren’s Society, along with fellow National Young Carers Coalition (NYCC) members, is urging the government to accept their proposal to amend The Children and Families Bill.

The NYCC is calling for this draft legislation to be changed to make sure that authorities identify and support the needs of children and their entire families – preventing children slipping through the net between adults’ and children’s services, and becoming young carers in the first place.

Caring can cost these children dearly. They are missing out on their childhoods and school.

Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society said; 'This is a unique opportunity for the government to change to law to make sure that young carers are identified and get the support they and their families need.

'Without identification, young carers don’t get the help they need, and many often incredibly vulnerable and isolated children are slipping through the net.

'We know from our own work that caring can cost these children dearly. They are missing out on their childhoods and school, gaining fewer qualifications and job opportunities and therefore are less likely to earn a decent living in the future. We believe that all children have the right to thrive and enjoy their childhoods and hope the government will take decisive action.'

The Children’s Society is working with more than 200 young carer ‘champions’ across England and a range of organisations through the Young Carers in Focus (YCiF) four-year partnership. Funded by the Big Lottery, the partnership aims to provide a platform for young carers to be heard and provide them with better access to practical advice and support.

The YCIF partnership is calling for barriers to good practice to be removed to ensure agencies work effectively together to support the whole family. This would improve children’s lives and reduce costs in the long term.

The Children’s Society argues that 2013 provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the government to consolidate key adult and children’s legislation to make sure children are prevented from taking on inappropriate caring.

Ends

Media enquiries:

For more information please call Lynsey Mellows, in The Children’s Society media team, on 020 7841 4422 or email media@childrenssociety.org.uk. For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editor:

• The Young Carers in Focus (YCiF) programme, led by The Children’s Society, brings partners together from YMCA Fairthorne Manor, DigitalMe, Rethink Mental Illness and The Fatherhood Institute. The four-year programme, running until 2016, is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. 

• YCiF aims to give young carers a voice so they can share their experiences and improve public understanding about the issues they face. More than 200 children are being recruited as “champions” to help raise awareness. Messages from YCiF will reach 450,000 young people in over 9,000 schools over four years, through the makewav.es/ycif site.

• The Children’s Society’s ‘Hidden from View’ report analyses data from a government study of 15,000 young people, aged 13 and 14, over a seven-year period, from 2004 – 2011. The ‘Longitudinal Study of Young People in England’ (LSYPE) was commissioned by the then Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF).  Of the 15,427 young people who completed the first wave, 689 (4.4%) identified themselves as young carers.

• The Children’s Society believes that many young carers remain hidden from the authorities. And our report, ‘Hidden from View’, reveals the significant long-term impact that caring has on a child’s life

• Good practice tools are available for professionals online at ww.childrenssociety.org.uk/youngcarer

• Help The Children’s Society, Barnardo's and Carers Trust tell the government to give young carers the support they deserve. Join and 'share' our Thunderclap before Tuesday - it only takes two clicks. http://ow.ly/lNETC

• About The Children’s Society: The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and give young carers a voice. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life.

• The National Young Carers Coalition (NYCC) is a coalition of organisations concerned with young carers and their families, either through direct provision of services and support, advocacy or research. Members include Carers Trust (formerly The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads Care), The Children’s Society, Barnardo’s, Action for Children, Family Action, Disabled Parents Network, Kids, Gloucestershire Young Carers, Young Carers International at the University of Nottingham, and Young Carers Research Group.

• Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 BIG has awarded close to £6bn. Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888, Out of hours: 07867 500 572

• BIG’s £30m Youth In Focus programme is funding projects that support three targeted groups of young people: young carers; young people leaving care; and young people leaving youth offending institutions, helping them through key transitions in their lives. Full details of the work of the Big Lottery Fund are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk