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Making young adult carers’ rights a reality

28 April 2015

Chloe Alexander, Policy & Campaigns Officer (Young Carers & Young Adult Carers)How can we support the rights of young adult carers? Chloe Alexander, Policy & Campaigns Officer (Young Carers & Young Adult Carers) at the Carers Trust, discusses the implementation of the Care Act and the Children and Families Act, and how we can support young adult carers’ transition to adulthood.

The Care Act and the Children and Families Act bring in stronger rights for young carers, young adult carers and adult carers. These rights have been campaigned for over years and it is an important moment for them to be in law and implemented across England.

This legislation is a sign of a society moving towards better recognition and support for carers. Significantly, the Care Act enshrines in law the principle that carers’ wellbeing is valued for their own sake and not just for what they can do for the person they care for, or to hold back the involvement of health and social care services. Carers Trust, leading the National Young Carers Coalition, lobbied for the government to give greater recognition to young adult carers in law, so that support does not drop away when a young carer moves into adulthood.

The Carers TrustYoung adult carers should not worry about school exams because of the pressures of being a carer. They should not struggle with mental health problems due to isolation and inappropriate caring responsibilities, and they should not rule out attending university away from home because there is no offer of alternative sources of care for their family member. Carers Trust continues to lobby funding for social care services, in order to give young carers greater opportunities and support.

There are challenges of moving from rights and principles to change on the ground. Young adult carers are now incorporated into the Care Act framework for support at transition. The Care Act provision for a young carer’s transition assessment should give young adult carers the chance to discuss the impact of their caring role before they turn eighteen and to consider how it will have an impact on their plans for education, training and employment. This should build on better identification and support of young carers as required by the Children and Families Act.

These new rights are a foundation for local authorities to recognise the needs of young adult carers and support them; with both the Care Act and the Children and Families Act calling for local authorities to use a whole-family approach in their young carer needs assessments and young carer transition assessments. Local authorities can take measures such as providing services to an adult or child with care needs, so that the young adult carer’s responsibilities are reduced.

For young adult carers, this is an opportunity for a genuine conversation about how their caring role could be lessened, with the expectation that social care provision could meet the needs within the family. With implementation of the Care Act combined with the Children’s and Families Act; we can make young carers’ rights a reality.

Get involved in creating a high-quality, best practice resource for the sector

To support work in this area, Research in Practice is creating a Practice Tool for young carers assessments. To assist with the development we’d like to hear how you currently assess carers’ needs. What are the biggest challenges you face when working to meet these needs and do you have examples of good practice to share? 

Our aim is to get a clearer understanding of the realities of practice, to inform the development of the practice tool. Please get in touch for more information or to share your experience by emailing katherine.bishop@rip.org.uk. All responses will be confidential, unless you state otherwise.

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