October 9th, 2013
A landmark change in the law, announced by the government yesterday (8 October 2013) signals the start of a new era of support for 160,000 children in England caring for their parents, siblings and family members.
For too long, young carers have been slipping through the net between children’s and adult’s support services – hidden from view of the very authorities there to help them, according to the National Young Carers Coalition (NYCC) of leading charities.
Now, the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP, has announced this historic amendment to The Children and Families Bill.
With the new amendment, when a child is identified as a young carer, the needs of everyone in the family will be considered. This will trigger both children’s and adults support services into action – assessing why a child is caring, what needs to change and what would help the family to prevent children from taking on this responsibility in the first place.
A staggering 166,363 children in England are caring for their parents, siblings and family members according to Census data released in May 2013. This is up by a fifth from when the last Census was conducted in 2001.
Despite this being the first official statistic to be published in ten years, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Many young carers remain hidden from the view of authorities. The Children’s Society’s analysis, Hidden from View, reveals that young carers are lagging behind in school and missing out on their childhoods because of the demands placed on them.
“It’s wonderful news,” says Action for Carers Surrey Chief Executive, Jane Thornton. “Young Carers here in Surrey played a major part in the national lobbying to get this amendment in the Children and Families Bill. We’re delighted the government have now listened to the voices of young carers on this issue, ensuring they have stronger rights and will be protected from inappropriate caring by assessment and support for the whole family.”