Headlines: December 10th, 2009

A new protocol has been launched to ensure that the more than 140,000-young people in England who care for family members do not miss out on education and other opportunities. It has been drawn up jointly by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and Directors of Children’s Services who said some young people were looking after relatives with high-level social care needs.

The two bodies say a third of children with such responsibilities are caring for a family member who is mentally ill. The new protocol aims to encourage directors of children’s and adult services to ensure that children in these circumstances are able to learn, achieve, develop friendships and enjoy positive, healthy childhoods.

In a foreword, Kim Bromley-Derry, the President of ADCS and Jenny Owen of ADASS, say services working with families should ensure the needs of dependent children, including those who help with caring, are recognised and that account is taken of their hopes, strengths and achievements and the need for advice and support for all the family. They add: “It falls to professionals across all sectors to include them in shaping the personalised responses that best suit their needs within the whole family approach adopted. The approaches and goals we are setting out, however, apply no matter how competent or willing the young carer may appear to be.”

Both presidents have stressed that the key to better support and outcomes for young carers is effective assessment. The protocol also calls on them to ensure children are protected from excessive or inappropriate caring roles and that no care or support package for a parent or sibling relies on excessive caring by a young person.