Young carers are children and young people aged 5 – 18 who take on regular and on-going practical and/or emotional caring responsibility for a family member (eg parent, sibling, grandparent who has a physical disability, chronic illness, mental health issues, alcohol / substance misuse or HIV / AIDS).
The responsibility taken on by a young carer can and does vary in relation to the nature of the illness or disability, the level and frequency of need for care and the structure of the family. The young carers may be a primary young carer or a secondary young carer.
A young carer may take on responsibility for:
- Domestic tasks – including cooking, cleaning, laungry, shopping, washing up, ironing.
- Personal care – including bathing, showering, toileting, help with mobility, lifting.
- Family responsibilities – including paying bills, supervise the cared for, supervise siblings, collect medication, deal with emergencies, reading letters, filling out forms.
- Nursing duties – including admistering medication, night care, booking appointments.
- Emotional support – to the cared for or / and other family members.
By taking on caring responsibilities young carers may be affected in three main areas:
- Education – poor punctuality, absenteeism, poor grades, homework issues, bullying.
- Social – problems making friends, taking part in after school clubs, low confidence, low self-esteem, inappropriate behaviour.
- Health – physical health, mental health, emotional health, sleeping pattern.
The signs that a child or a young person may be a young carer may of course also be indicators of many other issues. However, knowing these signs can help staff to build up a picture of a pupil and ask the right questions to reveal that a pupil is a young carer.
Is the pupil:
- Often late or missing days or weeks off school for no reason?
- Often tired or anxious?
- Having problems socially or with making friends? Conversely, do they get on well with adults and present as very mature for their age?
- A victim of bullying?
- Finding it difficult to concentrate on their work?
- Having difficulty in joining in extracurricular activities or unable to attend school trips?
- Not handing in their homework/coursework on time, or completeing it late and to a low standard?
- Anxious or concerned about an ill or disabled relative?
- Displaying behavioural problems?
- Having physical problems such as back pain (perhaps from heavy lifting)?
- Secretive about home life?
- Showing signs of physical neglect or poor diet, for example hungry, thin or lacking clean uniform?
- Listed as a Child in Need, subject to a Child Protection Plan, or Looked-after-Child Plan where parental ill health or addiction issues are involved?
- A sibling of a pupil at school who is registered with disabilities or ongoing health problems, including mental ill health? (Refer to your SEN Disability Register and School Census data)
Are parents (or other relative):
- Disabled or do they have an illness or addiction problem? (Remember that not all children who have a family member who is ill or disabled or has an addiction problem is not a young carer)
- Difficult to engage with?
- No attending parent’s evenings?
- Not communicating with school?
- On low incomes and unable to afford school related expenses? This may be because of disability related unemployment
If you think your child or a pupil at the school may be a young carer you can speak to Eve Taylor or Mrs Pearce.
You can also contact Sandwell Young Carers on 0121 525 8002. You can also find out more information about Sandwell Young Carers by visiting the website.