A young carer is someone under 18 who cares for another person. A young carer might look after someone because they're sick, or have a disability, or mental health issues, or drug or alcohol misuse issues. A young carer's life can be demanding. They have to balance their caring responsibilities with school work, sports, friends, looking after themselves and pursuing their dreams.
A young carer might look after someone because they're sick, or have a disability or mental health issues. Or, if a parent or family member has an alcohol or drug problem, they may be unable to care for themselves or anyone else.
Under the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Care Act 2014, there is a duty on the Local Authority, working with partners to actively identify young carers and ensure they receive the support they need. To do this, it is essential for agencies and professionals across the partnership to be aware of and able to identify young carers.
The number of children aged 5-17 who care for an adult or family member in the UK
The proportion of young carers who report having been bullied because of their caring responsibilites
The increase in weekly hours caring since the start of the coronavirus pandemic for 10% of young carers
Source: Children's Society, 2020
Source: Young Minds, 2020
Source: Carers Trust, 2020
How to identify a possible young carer
Children and young people may not feel able to talk about the challenges they face if they care for a loved one. They may feel guilty or even worried about the consequences of speaking up difficulties. Below are some of the signs that may suggest a child or young person is struggling to cope:
Withdrawing into themselves and becoming anxious or frustrated
Sudden changes in concentration or educational performance
Changes in attendance patterns (possibly linked to fear of leaving an unwell parent), school refusal, being late
Other behaviour changes – particularly longer-term challenging behaviour
A change in how organised and ready for school they are
Physical health problems
Frequent unexplained angry outbursts
Being tired (possibly due to anxiety or being woken by unwell parents).
How to get help for a young carer
If you have identified that a child or young person may be a young carer, they may need extra support to ensure their caring responsibilities are not impacting negatively on their education and wellbeing. Please refer the child or young person to Lambeth Children's Social Care (details below) so that their, and their family's, needs can be assessed and they can be supported.