What is a young carer?

Girl talking to her project worker at desk

What is a young carer?

A “young carer” is defined in section 96 of the Children and Families Act 2014 as: ‘…a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person (of any age, except where that care is provided for payment, pursuant to a contract or as voluntary work).’


The Children and Families Act 2014 and the Care Act 2014, both significantly strengthened the rights for young carers. When a child is identified as a young carer, the needs of the person they care for and the whole family should  be considered. Assessments and support should be preventing children and young people from taking on excessive or inappropriate care.  

Our barriers and solutions resource shares advice and good practice for implementing the duties to young carers and their families.



Key resources and research

Key resources setting out best practice and supporting information for implementation of the rights and duties for young carers and their families.

Below is some key research to help you understand the needs of young carers:

  • Hidden from View: the experiences of young carers in England - Provides a valuable insight into the daily lives and outcomes for young carers, by using data from the Longitudinal Survey of Young People in England (LSYPE) publically for the first time.
  • There’s nobody is there – no one who can actually help?: the challenges of estimating the number of young carers and knowing how to meet their needs - looks at two key issues in relation to the caregiving responsibilities of children and young people. It asks whether, despite a series of research studies and two censuses, we have an accurate picture of the scale of the phenomenon. It also assesses the responsiveness of services to young people with significant caring roles and how those services, especially those who may not currently be accessing support, can be improved.
  • Young Carers Report 2016 - New study from the Children’s Commissioner for England reveals that just a small fraction of young carers are receiving the support that they need.

Listening to children within a 'whole family' context

The Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014 introduced a number of reforms to the way that care and support for adults with care needs are met. It requires local authorities to adopt a whole system, whole council, whole-family approach, coordinating services and support around the person and their family and considering the impact of the care needs of an adult on their family, including children.

This means that children’s and adults’ services must have arrangements in place to assess young carers and ensure that no young person’s life is unnecessarily restricted because they are providing significant care to an adult.

The  Whole Family Pathway (2015) is a tool for all adult and children’s services, education, health and other agencies who have contact with young carers and their families. This resource will support practitioners to implement changes in legislation for young carers and their families, including effective responses to the needs of young carers and their families.

Transition in the Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014

The Care Act 2014 places a duty on local authorities to assess young carers before they turn 18, so that they have the information they need to plan for their future. This is referred to as a transition assessment.  Following the launch of the Carers Action Plan, we were commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care to identify and disseminate effective practices to support, to enable Young Adult Carers to make positive transitions between the ages of 16 and 24. We have published our findings in a research report Shaping our Future: Improving Assessment and Support for Young Carers Transition to Adulthood  as well as tools and resources for professionals and young adult carers.  The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) have produced a professionals tool for this.

Resources for Professionals

In partnership with Carers Trust, we have developed an online hub of resources to support professionals to support the effective implementation of the duties required under the Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014 with regard to young carers and their families. 

We provide many other different types of resources with specialist booklets on how to support young carers to toolkits that help those working with young carers.