A landmark change in the law, announced by the government today signals the start of a new era of support for 160,000 children in England caring for their parents, siblings and family members.
For too long, young carers have been slipping through the net between children’s and adult’s support services – hidden from view of the very authorities there to help them, according to the National Young Carers Coalition (NYCC) of leading charities.
Today, the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP, has announced this historic amendment to The Children and Families Bill.
Now, when a child is identified as a young carer, the needs of everyone in the family will be considered. This will trigger both children’s and adults support services into action – assessing why a child is caring, what needs to change and what would help the family to prevent children from taking on this responsibility in the first place.
A staggering 166,363 children in England are caring for their parents, siblings and family members according to Census data released in May 2013. This is up by a fifth from when the last Census was conducted in 2001.
Despite this being the first official statistic to be published in ten years, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Many young carers remain hidden from the view of authorities. The Children’s Society’s analysis, Hidden from View, reveals that young carers are lagging behind in school and missing out on their childhoods because of the demands placed on them.
The Children’s Society’s Chief Executive, Matthew Reed, said: 'This is an historic moment for children who have the responsibility of looking after their parents, siblings and family members. We applaud the government for taking a huge leap to support often incredibly vulnerable young carers who are slipping through the net, undetected by the support services they desperately need.
'This milestone signals the start of a new era of support for young carers. We know that caring can cost children dearly. As the Secretary of State has made clear today, our Hidden from View analysis has been a driving force behind this. It reveals that young carers are missing out on their childhoods and school, gaining fewer qualifications and job opportunities and therefore are less likely to earn a decent living in the future. All children must be allowed to thrive and enjoy their childhood.'
See Full Press Release here
.About Young Carers in Focus
Young Carers in Focus (YCiF) is an exciting new opportunity for young carers to feel empowered and supported to have a say about their lives and facilitate change at a Local and National level.
The Young Carers in Focus (YCiF) programme, led by The Children’s Society, brings partners together from YMCA Fairthorne Manor, DigitalMe, Rethink Mental Illness and The Fatherhood Institute. The four-year programme, running until 2016, is funded by Big Lottery. Visit the YCiF Network.What is a Young Carers in Focus Champion?
YCiF aims to give young carers a voice so they can share their experiences and improve public understanding about the issues they face. More than 200 children are being recruited as “champions” to help raise awareness. YCiF Champions are ambassadors for young carers all around the UK. They are passionate about raising awareness about the needs of young carers and want the voices of young carers to be heard. If you would like to become a YCiF Champion, find out more here
Message from Becky: this is a monumentally huge step in the right direction for young carers. Now we have rights enforced through legislation, which for any group of people is such a positive thing. Understandably, it has been difficult considering all the legal jargon but, you have my word, I am trying to make the the legislation as young person friendly as possible in order for you guys to understand what you are now entitled to.