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Supporting young carers and their families

This resource makes suggestions for good practice given by young carers and those who work with them. It also explains entitlement assessment and highlights useful resources for practitioners.

Number of pages:

24 pages

Date published:

Who are young carers?

A ‘young carer’ is defined  as:

…a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person…

For the purposes of this document, this relates to care for any family member who is physically or mentally ill, frail, elderly, disabled or misuses alcohol or substances.

The key principle is that:

‘Children should not undertake inappropriate or excessive caring roles that may have an impact on their development. A young carer becomes vulnerable when their caring role risks impacting upon their emotional or physical well-being and their prospects in education and life.’

The negative impact of caring without essential support can be significant and enduring on the young person’s physical and emotional health, social life and employment and life opportunities.

It is important that special consideration is given to specific groups to ensure inclusive practice, especially when undertaking an assessment of needs – for example:

  • Black and minority ethnic groups
  • Refugees and asylum seekers
  • Very young carers - Families in rural areas.
  • Armed forces families

Children’s welfare should be promoted and safeguarded by working towards the prevention of any child undertaking inappropriate levels of care and responsibility for any family member.

Key principles of practice for young carers and their families

  • Children’s welfare should be promoted and safeguarded by working towards the prevention of any child undertaking inappropriate levels of care and responsibility for any family member.
  • The key to change is the development of a whole-family approach and for all agencies – including children’s and adults’ services – to work together to offer coordinated assessments and services to the child and the whole family.
  • Young carers and their families are the experts on their own lives and as such must be fully informed and involved in the development and delivery of support services.
  • Young carers will have the same access to education and career choices as their peers.
  • It is essential to continue to raise awareness of young carers and to support and influence change effectively. Work with young carers and their families must be monitored and evaluated regularly.
  • Local young carers services or other targeted services should be available to provide safe, good quality support to those children who continue to be affected by any caring role within their family.