Parent carers

Parent carers

Parent carers seldom feel like ‘carers’. They are first and foremost parents. But being a parent of a child or adult who needs additional support means you are a carer – and there’s help available for you too.

Who are parent carers?

Parent carers provide support to their children, including grown up children who could not manage without their help.

The child/adult can be ill, disabled, or have mental health or substance misuse problems.

Less recognised

As a parent carer, you are less likely to see yourself as a carer – and health and social care professionals are also less likely to see you as a carer.

This is important, because once you recognize you are a carer, and that your role may be causing additional practical, emotional or financial worries, then you are more likely to look for support – which is out there.

Now in my sixties, thinking about my own autistic son’s future becomes more of a concern. I tire more easily and have arthritis, and the energy needed to be his full time carer for his physical, emotional and social needs has become more difficult.

Rose, Surrey carer

Help for parent carers of children under 18

Parent carers of children under 18 have similar rights to other carers but the way that some services are offered to them is different. They can apply for Carer’s Allowance or a GP Carer’s Break payment in the same way as the carers of adults. They can also access any of Action for Carers’ support. However there are a couple of significant differences concerning Carer’s Assessment for Parent Carers and Parent Carer Break Grants.

Carer’s Assessment

A parent carer, like all carers is entitled to a Carer’s Assessment to find out what help they need and how these needs can be met. This should mean support and help for you as a carer, and recognition of your role in your child’s life.

Parent carers have a right to a separate Carer’s Assessment. In practice, however, your own needs for a break may be considered in conjunction with your child’s assessment by Surrey County Council Children’s services, if eligible, under the Children Act.

It’s important to ensure your needs in relation to employment, training, education, leisure, maintaining relationships, social/ family life are discussed with you and taken into account when planning any package of care for your child, so please draw this to the attention of your social worker. If you are entitled to social care support, any package of care provided by the local authority should include a break if you have indicated this is something you need.

More on the Council’s SEND Surrey local offer website about Assessments as a parent carer.

Needs Assessment

Your child may be eligible for support from social services. Because they can only help those most in need, they first carry out an initial assessment. If this shows you are eligible, they will refer you and your family for a further assessment to find out what your needs are and if they can help.

Please contact the Children’s Services team to ask for an assessment of your child’s social care needs.

NHS Continuing Care

What is NHS Continuing Care Support for Children?

Where a young person under 18 has needs arising from disability, accident or illness and these needs cannot be met by existing services, they may be eligible for additional funding from the NHS.

The Continuing Care service provides specialist support and care for children who fulfil the criteria of requiring additional healthcare support at home and in the community.

Parent Carer Grants

These are payments made to support Surrey parents who have a disabled child (under 18) not currently receiving services from Surrey County Council. Parents can’t apply directly themselves but anyone working with a family can apply on your behalf – such as the local carers support workers or one of our ACS team, teachers and Home School Link workers, nurses and health visitors, Children’s Centre managers, Early Years Support co-ordinators etc – having completed either a Child Assessment Framework form or Carer’s Support assessment with you.

What can the grants be used for?

Carer Break Grants can be used to fund a family holiday, a short break for parents, a training course for a parent, childcare to give a parent a break, a contribution towards your child accessing play or activities, days out, equipment to help you as a parent carer and much more. Once the application has been submitted, you will be contacted to discuss your needs, with a payment following shortly afterwards.

For more details, speak to any of the professionals working with you or your child, or phone the Short Breaks team on 01372 832896 or email them.

Looking after yourself

As with all caring, it’s so important to also look after yourself. Depending on the care you’re giving, you may be more physically or emotionally drained. It can be hard, but try and find time for your own health, relaxation and social life. See looking after yourself.

Support from ACS

We can talk to you about your caring situation and suggest ways to help, let you know about ACS events and support groups, as well as signpost you on to further sources of help, from the council, NHS and other charities and community groups.

Thank you so much for your concern, help and support when I needed someone to talk to you.

Support groups

We have support groups running regularly across Surrey at our Hubs (and online), including many just for parent carers. It’s a chance to talk to others who understand, and share tips and advice. They are very relaxed, informal get-togethers.

I now feel we are not the only ones struggling for support and with everyday tasks.

Online communities

If you can’t get to an Action for Carers group, you may like talk to others or read about others’ challenges in an online forum or community. Carers UK’s forum has many discussions about caring as a parent. Go to the site and you can search by topic. For parents and other carers supporting someone with autism, the National Autistic Society’s community has great advice and information.


Action for Carers run events useful to parent carers, including information days or workshops on specific issues, such as autism or mental health.

We also have general events that may help you, about looking after yourself as a carer, and social activities. Take a look at all our upcoming events.

Information and signposting

As well as telling you about the services we have, our Action for Carers team can give you further information from other organisations and signpost you on to other sources of help. Just get in touch to find out how we can help you.

Other sources of support

Surrey County Council

SCC offer a range of support to help the parents of children with disabilities or significant additional needs.

Surrey’s Children with Disabilities Register

This Register is voluntary, but helps SCC plan services and support better, including supporting parents and carers.

Children with Disabilities Register

Surrey County Council online tools and training

SCC offer some free online tools and apps to help parents:

  • Between Us – an app designed to help you improve your relationships
  • Arguing Better – a free online course to help you manage difficult conversations, avoid conflict and improve things for your whole family
  • Getting it Right for Children (see second page of PDF) – a free online course for separating parents to help manage conflict and minimise the impact on children

Family Voice Surrey

Family Voice Surrey speak up for the families of children and young people with additional needs in Surrey. To keep up to date with all things SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) related, take a look at their website, and sign up for their newsletter.

Face2Face support

If you live in the Reigate/Redhill area, Reigate and Redhill YMCA runs Face2Face – a volunteer-led group of parents and carers who have a child with a disability, who offer friendship and support to other parents in a similar position.

New bold hope

New Bold Hope is a website for parents and carers managing challenging behaviours in their SEND children. Full of useful resources and information.

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Share your views

Parent carers' views are frequently sought by Surrey County Council and other providers of services. Take a look at our consultations page to find out more about using your voice and experiences to make a difference.

child doing dishes

Find out about our support for young carers

The whole family is often affected by caring. As well as support for adults, we help children and young people who also have caring responsibilities, and they'll meet others in a similar position.

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