Identifying a Young Carer
Young Carers are children and young people aged 5-18 who help to look after somebody in their family because that person has a disability, illness, mental health difficulty, or because that person misuses drugs or alcohol.
Many children and young people help out at home with things like washing dishes and keeping their room tidy but young carers do more than that. There are lots of different things that young carers might do to help, these could include:
- Helping to do the shopping
- Looking after younger brothers or sisters
- Giving medication
- Helping the person they care for go to the toilet or have a shower
- Keeping them company when they’re feeling down. Lots of young carers say that they worry about the person they care for when they aren’t with them and feel they need to check they are okay
The 2011 census identified 166,000 young carers in England and Wales between the ages of 5 – 18 years. There are an estimated 7,000 young carers in North Tyneside.
However, research undertaken by BBC News and the University of Nottingham in 2018 suggests the number could be much higher – possibly up to 800,000 children in England alone. This amounts to six young carers in every North Tyneside secondary school class.
Signs to look out for that a child or young person is caring
- The presence of an illness or disability in the family
- Appears tired, stressed, anxious or depressed
- Lateness or absenteeism from school, underachieving or experiencing difficulties with homework
- Unable to partake in after school activities
- Socially isolated
- Emotional issues
- Behavioral problems
- Physical problems such as back pain
- False maturity (older than their years)
- Parent/s or guardians may not attend meetings/ parent evenings
The impact of caring on young carers
- Physical health: often severely affected by caring through the night, repeatedly lifting a heavy adult, poor diet and lack of sleep.
- Emotional wellbeing: stress, tiredness and mental ill health are common for young carers.
- Isolation: feeling different or isolated from their peers, limited opportunities for socialisation.
- Education: impacts on school attendance and educational achievement:
- On average young carers miss or cut short 48 school days a year due to bullying and harassment
- More than two out of three young carers are bullied at school
- Young carers are 1.5 times more likely than their peers to have a special educational need or a disability
- Young Carers have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level, the equivalent to nine grades lower overall than their peers
Support that professionals can provide to reduce the impact of caring
- Acknowledge the young person’s caring responsibilities so they feel valued.
- Provide a listening ear.
- Provide age appropriate information about their relative’s illness/disability .Identify a trusted adult/professional in their life whom they can talk to.
- Identify opportunities for the young carer to access a break from their caring role
- Identify opportunities for the young carer to do their homework e.g. access to a classroom during lunchtime and homework clubs.
- Help the young carer to access activities where they can mix with their peers and young carers.
- Include the young carer in decision making about them and their family.
- Encourage and support young carers to reach their potential e.g. young carers who want to attend further education or seek employment.
- Refer to North Tyneside Council for a statutory young carers assessment.
- Contact North Tyneside Carers’ Centre (0191) 643 2298 for further advice or a referral for specialist support if you are unable to meet the young carers needs.
Guidance for Identifying Young Carers and Guidance for Completing a Young Carers Needs Assessment (YCNA) 2018 can be found here.
Young Carers’ Link Worker
North Tyneside Council is committed to ensuring that young carers’ identified in the borough are offered a Young Carers’ Needs Assessment and an annual review of their support plan. To support this process, in 2019, the local authority collaborated with North Tyneside Carers’ Centre to create the new post of Young Carers’ Link Worker.
The Young Carers’ Link Worker provides ongoing training and support to local authority staff such as Social Workers, Family Partners and school staff, to support them to identify young carers and complete statutory Young Carers’ Needs Assessments. Once assessments are complete, the Link Worker quality assures the plans for young carers and ensures that annual reviews take place. The overall aim of the collaboration is to help young carers to thrive and access the best available support where they need it.
If you need more information about Young Carers’ Needs Assessments, or if you or your organisation have training needs around young carers, please contact The Young Carers’ Link Worker, Anne Longstaff on firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, please contact our Young Carers’ Project team on
(0191) 643 2298.