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4.1 Young Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter addresses the identification, assessment and support duties in respect of young carers.

AMENDMENT

In September 2017, the hyperlinks in Section 3, Early Intervention and CAF were revised and updated.

This chapter remains under review.


Contents

  1. Introduction and Overview
  2. Definitions and Responsibilities
  3. Early Intervention and CAF
  4. Child Protection
  5. Flow Chart Services and Support for Young Carers
  6. Tiers of Support for Young Carers


1. Introduction and Overview

Young carers can be defined as Children In Need if their health or development is being, or likely to be significantly impaired, under the Children Act 1989 and are eligible for services from the Education and Early Intervention Service and From the Safeguarding and Specialist Service. They may request and receive an assessment of their needs and to be provided, where appropriate, with services.

The purpose of identifying and assessing young carers will always be to ensure that they are not taking on age inappropriate caring roles and to provide services that reduce their caring role to one that will not have a negative impact on their health and development.

In a very small number of cases, the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000 can be used to provide an assessment to young carers who are 16 or 17 years old. Under this legislation, they can be supported in their caring role, that is, receive services that help them to care, rather than taking the caring role away from them.

However, the guidance on the Act is very clear that this must only happen when the local authority is certain that this is in the 16 and 17 year olds best interest. The one example is where a 16 or 17 year old is looking after a terminally ill parent. Even where such an assessment is appropriate, the situation must be monitored and reviewed closely.

The young carers assessment should Think Family approach and be informed by contact with a range of other professionals who may also have contact and know the family. For instance, an adult social worker if there is ongoing involvement for an adult in the home who has a disability, mental illness, drug / alcohol issue, or any child care professional who has a role with this family, with the young carer, or any other child. 

Issues to be considered when carrying out an assessment using Think Family Approaches:

  • A young carer’s education may be adversely affected in that their attendance may be poor, or they may be regularly late for school, bullied or they may not be able to satisfactorily complete homework. They may also be too tired or concerned about their home situation to concentrate properly at school;
  • Young carers may be unable to get on with the sort of life they would like for themselves, including establishing relationships outside the family, moving away from home, and getting a job;
  • Isolation from peers or family members;
  • Lack of time for play, sport or leisure activities;
  • Young carers may not always be aware of the impact their caring role has on their daily life. i.e. unable to socialise as a family, or the frustration; or
  • Anger they can experience from being in that situation;
  • Feeling and possibly actually being different from their peers;
  • The contribution made by a young carer is important and should be openly recognised, respected and valued;
  • Services should be provided, as with under 16’s, primarily to parents to enhance their ability to fulfil their parenting responsibilities following assessment under the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families. (Adult Care Services. Carers’ Assessment Guidance Issue 1);
  • All professionals who work with dependent adults should positively recognise the contribution of young carers and appropriately include them;
  • The needs of young carers can be very different from those of adult carers. Young carers should not be taking on the same responsibilities as an adult;
  • It may be inappropriate for young carers to take on some caring roles;
  • Inappropriate responsibility for caring can pass unnoticed;
  • Young Carers views should be actively sought and listened to in privacy, appropriate time and space should be available for this. Professionals should not make assumptions about Young Carers;
  • Some young carers find it difficult to seek or accept help because they think it might result in difficulties. Professionals need to recognise that children will have a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to their families;
  • Young carers from ethnic minority groups may face additional problems. These may include difficulties in contacting or trusting Children, Schools and Families, or a likelihood of school exclusion;
  • Professionals may need to involve the services of interpreters. Where possible an impartial interpreter should be used and the young carer should never, except in exceptional circumstances (emergency/life/death situations) be used in this role;
  • Involvement in inappropriate physical tasks may adversely affect a young carer’s physical development. Moving and Handling may raise specific issues for young carers.

It is expected that this guidance will be followed by all staff and volunteers in the Education and Early Intervention Services, the Safeguarding and Specialist Services, providers that are funded by or have contracts with the County Council, GP's and the Health and Community Services. Children Schools and Families and Adult Care Services are required to work in partnership to ensure services for the family are identified.

Under Section 1 of the Carers (Equal Opportunities Act) where staff in agencies with social care functions, come into contact with a carer who appears to be providing a substantial amount of care on a regular basis, they have a statutory duty to tell them of their right to a carers (needs) assessment and are responsible for referring young carers for an assessment following consent from the parent and /or young person if they are able to consent.

The requirements of the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 fit well with the assessment requirements for any child in need. Exploration of their opportunities for leisure activities, education and training opportunities and, and their ambitions for their adult working life should be good practice in the assessment of the needs of all young people.


2. Definitions and Responsibilities

A "young carer" is anyone under the age of 18 who is caring for a family member who is:

  • Physically ill or disabled, or mentally ill, or with a learning or sensory disability; or
  • Dependent on drugs or alcohol; or
  • Dependent on her/him for practical help and/or emotional support.

A child is in need if her/his health or development is being, or is likely to be, significantly impaired. They should be able to participate in and benefit from the childhood experiences that are normal for someone of their age and ability. This includes educational, recreational and social opportunities.

A young carer in need is therefore a child or young person whose responsibilities for caring for someone else has serious implications for her/his own wellbeing.

Young carers are often significantly disadvantaged in comparison to their peers and have particular needs. Many children and young people who are involved in caring for someone else will not be damaged by the experience - but if the responsibility and expectations placed on them are excessive or inappropriate, they could be significantly harmed and/or disadvantaged.

All young carers should have recognition and support to help them cope and those who are disadvantaged or at risk of harm should receive help aimed at resolving excessive or inappropriate demands on them.

Many children and young people help with daily tasks and share in the care of siblings as part of everyday living within their family household. This is not and should not be an automatic cause for concern. Caring can be a positive and valued experience that strengthens family ties and builds personal skills.

Consideration of when caring responsibilities become too much for a child should be identified when undertaking a young carers assessment. If the caring role and responsibilities are having an adverse effect on the child/young person’s education, or ability to form friendships or undertake leisure activities.

Workers should take account of the expectations, commitment and competence of the child or young person involved. Key areas are the emotional pressures and social impacts on young carers providing support or ‘looking out’ for the person they care for:

Anyone who identifies a young carer should consider the following:

  • The contribution made by a young carer is important and should be openly recognised, respected and valued;
  • Services should be provided, primarily to parents to enhance their ability to fulfil their parenting responsibilities following assessment;
  • All professionals who work with dependent adults should positively recognise the contribution of young carers and appropriately include them;
  • Young carers are entitled to:
    • Support;
    • Help;
    • Access to opportunities;
    • Achieve;
    • Maintain the same reasonable standards of health and development as their peers.

There may be different expectations placed on young people according to their circumstances, which may add to the problems faced by young carers: 

  • The needs of young carers can be very different from those of adult carers;
  • It may be inappropriate for young carers to take on some caring roles;
  • Young carers' views should be actively sought and listened to in privacy - and appropriate time and space should be available for this. Professionals should not make assumptions about young carers;
  • Some young carers find it difficult to seek or accept help, because they think it might result in difficulties. Professionals need to recognise that children will have a strong sense of loyalty and commitment to their families;
  • Young carers from ethnic minority groups may face additional problems. These may include difficulties in contacting or trusting services or a likelihood of school exclusion;
  • Professionals may need to involve the services of interpreters. Where possible, an impartial interpreter should be used and the young carer should never, except in exceptional circumstances (emergency/life/death situations) be used in this role;
  • Involvement in inappropriate physical tasks may adversely affect a young carer's physical development. Moving and handling may raise specific issues for young carers.


3. Early Intervention and CAF

The CAF assessment should use a Think Family approach and be informed by contact with a range of other professionals who may also have contact and know the family. For instance, an Adult Care Team Social Worker, Mental Health Team if there is ongoing involvement for an adult in the home who has a disability, mental illness, drug / alcohol issue, or any child care professional who has a role with this family, with the young carer, or any other child.

The CAF may be appropriate to be used before, or in conjunction with a young carers assessment to help understand and articulate the full range of a child’s needs. It can help ensure that the referral to a specialist service is relevant and can build up a comprehensive picture of needs - see Section 5, Flow Chart Services and Support for Young Carers and Section 6, Tiers of Support for Young Carers.

Professionals who undertake assessments of children or adults need to be alerted to the possibility of “young carer” issues, and ensure they are specifically identified and addressed. Children’s services and Health and Community Services are required to work in partnership to ensure services for the family are identified using the Delivering Social Care Across Service Boundaries Protocol.

This is a repeat of above. The CAF may be appropriate to be used before, or in conjunction with a specialist assessment to help understand and articulate the full range of a child’s needs. It can help ensure that the referral to a specialist service is relevant and can build up a comprehensive picture of needs - See flow chart of services and support for young carer’s and Tiers of support for young carer’s.

Young Carer Professional Assistants within Targeted Advice Service will assess young carers' needs as part of early intervention and prevention at Tier 2 level, make links with Health and Community Services and voluntary agencies and put together packages of support to meet those needs.

The Young Carer PA’s are involved in any case where there is or might be a Young Carer’s dimension. Their role will be to carry out an assessment of the child/young person’s caring role, provide short term support and refer on to others best placed to respond to the needs identified. The Young Carer PA’s can support the lead professional in Common Assessments and carry out Young Carer’s Assessments.

The role of the Young Carers PA’s will be to provide regular support to young carers referred whose caring role is having an impact on their emotional well being. Each Young Carers PA will proactively keep in contact with allocated young carers and be alongside them responding to their changing needs.

The range of support that can be provided includes:

  • Individual support;
  • Referral of child/young person to Services/support;
  • Referral of adult to services/support;
  • Support to access activities;
  • Direct and indirect support of family.

All referrals need to be made using the following: Tel: 0300 123 4043.

Referrals and enquiries should now be sent via CSF.hertsdirect@hertscc.gov.uk.

Letters sent to:

Customer Services Centre, PO Box 153, Stevenage, Herts, SG1 2GH.

If a situation reaches Tier 3 of Specialist and Safeguarding thresholds (see Criteria and Threshold Guidance - Continuum of Need) the case will be referred to the relevant safeguarding team, the Young Carer PAs will cease their involvement until safeguarding issues are resolved. At the point when CS&SS involvement ceases the case will be referred back to Targeted Advice Service and Young Carer PA to provide ongoing support.


4. Child Protection

Where there are concerns regarding child protection, reference should be made to the Hertfordshire Safeguarding Children Board (HSCB) Inter-agency Child Protection and Safeguarding Children Procedures 2010.

Some young carers may be in situations where they are, or are likely to suffer significant harm. They may be victims of neglect, physical, emotional or sexual abuse. Any professionals with concerns of this nature regarding a child should make a referral to Children, Schools and Families via the Customer Service Centre on 0300 123 4043

Professionals intending to make a referral of Child Protection concern should inform the parents, unless to do so would in itself place a child at risk of significant harm. Schools may wish to discuss this with the Assessment Team. The child’s consent is not required before making a referral.  All children under the age of 18, are considered to be children within the context of the Children Act 1989.


5. Flow Chart Services and Support for Young Carers

Click here to view Flow Chart Services and Support for Young Carers.


6. Tiers of Support for Young Carers

Click here to view Tiers of Support for Young Carers.

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