5.25 Young Carers

A young carer is a young person under the age of eighteen who has a responsibility for caring on a regular basis for a relative (or very occasionally a friend) who has an illness or disability. This can be primary or secondary caring and leads to a variety of losses for the young carer.

Many young carers experience:

  • Low level of school attendance;
  • Some educational difficulties;
  • Social isolation;
  • Conflict between loyalty to their family and their wish to have their own needs met.

All agencies in contact with young carers should consider if they are in need of support services in their own right.

The local authority should consider whether any provisions of the Children Act 1989 or Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 should be applied.

The extent and effect of their caring responsibilities may satisfy the criteria for Children in Need (particularly where a child is unlikely to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development because of their caring responsibilities).

If any agency is concerned that the young carer is at serious risk of neglect, abuse or harm, this must be referred to Surrey Children's Services (see Contacts and Referrals Procedure) and if appropriate a Strategy Meeting should be arranged.

Unless there is reason to believe that it would put the child at risk, young carers should be told if there is a need to make a referral, in order that their trust in a worker is retained.

If possible, the young carers consent should be sought through a discussion of why the referral must be made and the possible outcomes.

In those situations where the child does not give consent, but it is still considered necessary to initiate a Section 47 Enquiry, s/he should be kept informed of all decisions made, and offered support throughout.

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