Who are young carers?
A young carer is a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person of any age (except generally where that care is provided for payment or pursuant to a contract or as voluntary work).
Most young carers provide care for a family member who has care needs because of illness, disability, or an addiction, e.g. alcohol.
A young carer could provide physical care, for example, assisting a physically disabled person with dressing or washing. A young carer may also provide care for someone who has poor mental health, a learning disability, or a sensory impairment. The care they provide could be encouragement to do things, managing finances, or interpreting.
Being a young carer can have a positive impact on some children, for example they may acquire new skills, or be safely independent. However, being a young carer may also have a negative impact on a child.
Awareness is key… Who to talk to
All organisations that work with children want to ensure young carers are treated fairly and can have access to the same opportunities as other children. By informing professionals that your child is a young carer, they will be in a better position to help.
Some schools have young carers groups or other dedicated staff that support children. Health professionals such as GP’s may also be able to provide advice or signpost you to the right support.
Assessments for young carers
For some children, providing care to another person can cause them to have support needs, or put their health, development, or education at risk. If you feel you child has support needs in relation to the care they are providing/intending to provide, then you can ask professionals such as schools to complete an Early Help Assessment. Professionals have access to support from the county council to help them with this process.
If you are worried about the impact that providing care to someone is having on your child, you can contact the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). The MASH worker will talk through your concerns and explore your child’s needs with you and determine what sort of assessment is needed. If they think that an assessment with Social Care is required, they will discuss this with you.
The purpose of an assessment is to gather important information about your child, to analyse their needs and any risks they face, and provide support to address those needs to improve your child’s outcomes and ensure they are safe.
An assessment should consider the type of care a child is providing, how much care they are providing, and what support needs they have as a result of this. An assessment should also consider if the person they care for would benefit from support.
Specialist support for young carers
The young carers team is part of the Family Solutions Service.
The young carers team provides targeted casework and support to young carers for whom there are safeguarding concerns that require a multi-agency plan of support.
If an early help assessment or an assessment completed by Social Care identifies the need for specialist support, this may be provided by the young carers team, or other teams within the Family Solutions Service.
Information relating to services and support for adult carers can be found at Carers Oxfordshire.
Information relating to carers allowance can be found on the carers UK website. Carers allowance can be claimed by people aged 16 years and older (subject to eligibility criteria).