Headlines: June 10th, 2009

Local authorities are accused today of doing too little to support young people who help to care for their parents. Ofsted has published details of a survey in eight council areas and of 50 young carers and found inconsistent joint working between councils and their partners and a lack of awareness by some professionals.

The survey report, “Supporting Young Carers”, also found that families being reluctant to engage with service providers was another key barrier to identifying and supporting young carers. Where there was reluctance, the report says, this was based on fears that the family would be broken up or their capacity as parents would be questioned. Young carers with parents who misused substances or had mental health issues were the most difficult to identify.

The report found that in seven of the eight council areas children’s views were not consistently considered when their parents’ disabilities were assessed. Only three of 37 young carers in the survey who had disabled parents said their views had been asked for or included in an assessment.

Young carers, the survey found, accepted their role and saw it as part of normal life. They felt it brought them greater closeness to their parents and said the experience helped them deal with the practicalities of life at an early age. They were, however, concerned about school and college with older children being frequently late or absent and facing problems getting coursework completed on time.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said: “Councils and their partners need to work together to identify and support young carers and their families. It is unacceptable that for most young carers no assessment of their own needs was conducted by children’s social care professionals.”