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Meeting the health and wellbeing needs of young carers

Case studies

It is clear young carers face many disadvantages. The very fact that they spend so much time caring takes its toll on their education, on their physical health and on their emotional wellbeing. What can be done to tackle these inequalities? Councils are under a legal duty to identify young carers and carry out assessments that consider the impact on the child and whole family. But finding those young carers is tricky. They are often isolated and hidden from view. The last census puts the official figure for young carers at nearly 170,000. But research by the BBC and Nottingham University has suggested the true figure may be four times higher than official estimates claim.

It means councils have to look at new ways of identifying carers before they even think about helping them.

That requires close working with partners in the NHS and across schools in particular to refer young carers on. But once they are in the system keeping young carers engaged and involved so that the impact of their caring responsibilities can be minimised is no easy task. There is, unfortunately, no silver bullet to meeting these challenges. It requires concerted effort on many different levels.

But help is at hand. NHS England has developed a carers toolkit to help support the health and wellbeing of carers and the national Young Carers in Schools programme provides a template for working with our partners in education. The Children’s Society and Carers Trust are a great source of help and information too.

We can’t ignore that children’s services have been affected by budget cuts and increasing demand. That is why the Local Government Association (LGA) is calling on the Government to fully fund children’s services through its Bright Futures campaign www.local.gov.uk/bright-futures But, as the case studies in this report show, there is good work already being done, even in difficult circumstances, that we can learn from.

Now we must build on the progress that has been made so we can ensure young carers get the support they need and the opportunities they are entitled to have the bright future they deserve.