Young carers are not being provided with the early support they require from schools and local authorities, says children’s charity.
A new report, published by The Children’s Society, reveals thousands of young carers, some as young as nine, are not receiving the critical help they need from social services, health professionals and schools.
Entitled There’s Nobody, is There…?, the report found that young carers are frequently overlooked—until their own problems reach crisis point.
Young carers can be at high risk for developing mental health issues, educational underachievement, bullying and social isolation.
49% of the young people interviewed for the research said they did not feel they received adequate support, even though professionals should have been aware that they were dealing with household finances, managing medication or being a 24-hour emotional lifeline at home.
Emma, 17, a young carer who looks after her diabetic mother, told the charity: ‘I’ve been a carer my whole life – I was injecting my mum with insulin when I was three. The first phone number I learnt was 999. It’s frustrating; we’re invisible.’
According to the latest census, there are 166,000 young carers in the UK, although The Children’s Society believes this to be just the tip of the iceberg.
Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: ‘This report shows that while some things have got better for young carers, such as improved legislation, there are still barriers to children getting the right support at the right time.
‘It is vitally important to remember that any child could be a carer. And the level of care they provide can change due to any number of factors, like a grandparent who helped with caring suddenly passing away.
‘Schools, councils and GPs need to be continually and sensitively asking the right questions to make sure young carers are not slipping through the cracks.’