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New national study offers unique insight into life as a young carer

A report by Loughborough University which offers a unique insight into the lives of young carers has been published by the Department for Education (DfE).

The research, carried out by Kantar Public in partnership with Professor Jo Aldridge, Director of the University’s Young Carers Research Group, has captured the views of young carers aged 5-17 and their parents across England.

It looks at the nature of the care and support that young carers are providing; the impact of caring responsibilities on their own physical and mental health, education and development; and the types of support they receive, whether formal or informal.

The report forms part of a broader suite of research commissioned by the DfE in 2014 – including a national qualitative study of young carers and their families conducted by Professor Aldridge and Kantar Public – which aimed to serve as a baseline study of the lives of young carers in England.

Its key findings are:

  • Children are carrying out a range of responsibilities in the home, including practical household duties such as cooking and cleaning;
  • 1 in 4 children (26%) are carrying out nursing type responsibilities;
  • More than half (57%) of children are providing emotional support to parents or other relatives both inside and outside the home;
  • Fewer than 1 in 5 (19%) young carers receive a needs assessment and nearly two thirds (64%) receive no support at all (either formal or informal).

Professor Aldridge said: “The results of the survey show clearly that young carers are taking on much higher levels of responsibility both in and outside the home than children who do not have to provide care. For some children, the effects of caring are considerable, especially when caring is unrecognised and unsupported – it can have adverse consequences for children’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing as well as their education and transitions into adulthood. 

“We now have important new legislation and guidance in place to support young carers and their families. Professionals in both adult and children’s services need to draw on this legislation and guidance to improve the identification, assessment and provision of support to young carers and their families in order to prevent the consequences of caring for children becoming both serious and long term.”

The lives of young carers in England. Omnibus survey research’ full report and appendices can be downloaded here.

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