8.47 Young Carers
A young carer is a young person under 18 who has a responsibility for caring on a regular basis for a relative (or very occasionally a friend) who has an illness or disability, including some-one with mental health or substance misuse problems.
A child under 8 who is carrying out significant caring duties should always regarded as coming within this definition.
This can be primary or secondary caring and leads to a variety of losses for the young carer.
Recognition and Response
Many young carers experience:
All agencies in contact with young carers should consider if they are in need of support services in their own right.
The local authority should consider whether any provisions of the Children Act 1989 or Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 should be applied.
Depending on the extent and effect of caring responsibilities, the young carer may come within the definition of a Child In Need under Section17 of the Children Act 1989.
If any agency is concerned that the young carer is at serious risk of neglect, abuse or harm, this must be referred to Children's Social Care under the Making a Referral Procedure. The response should be the same as for any other child and the procedures in Section 4 of the manual, Responding to Child Protection Referralswill apply. Where appropriate a Strategy Discussion will be held.
Unless there is reason to believe that it would put the child at risk, young carers should be told if there is a need to make a referral, in order that their trust in a worker is retained - see Information Sharing and Confidentiality. If possible, the young carer's consent should be sought through a discussion of why the referral must be made and possible outcomes.
In those situations where the child does not give consent, but it is still considered necessary to make a referral, (s)he should be kept informed of all decisions made, and offered support throughout.