This symposium provides children and adult support services, local authorities, healthcare professionals, social services, employers, and education professionals with an invaluable opportunity to identify priorities for action, and develop strategies for effective partnership working. It will also enable all stakeholders to share best practice in ensuring young people’s knowledge and experiences are informing the delivery of timely and high quality services.
Whilst the latest census identified 166,000 young carers in the UK (ONS,2011), the actual figure is likely to be much higher, with the Children’s Society estimate being closer to 700,000. Whilst caring is seen as rewarding by the majority of young carers, the associated responsibilities can have multiple and significant adverse effects, including; under-engagement in education, and the restriction of relationships (DFE, 2017). On average, two young carers in every secondary school miss out on up to ten weeks of school each year, with 60% struggling to meet deadlines (Carers Trust, 2017). According to research by the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, young carers are also more likely to suffer mental health problems, stress and sleep disorders than their peers.
Support for young carers is currently governed by The Children and Families Act, and the Care Act (2014). These stipulate that all young carers under 18 have a right to a needs assessment by a local authority, with councils mandated to take ‘reasonable steps’ to identify those in their area with support needs. The Care Act also places a duty on NHS bodies to cooperate with local authorities in delivering duties including the identification of unmet needs. To develop a robust evidence base for the experiences of young carers, the Department for Education also commissioned and published an extensive study on The Life of Young Carers in England, culminating in the Omnibus Survey Report in January 2017.
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