On Thursday 14th January 2021 we hosted the third of our ‘Inviting the Experts…’ series of webinars. This is a series of CPD sessions which we have set up recognising the incredible work that is going on in schools right now in particularly challenging circumstances and the need for school staff to have access to informative, practical advice from experts.
The session was delivered by Rebecca Rolfe from The Children’s Society, who provided an insightful overview of the challenges facing Young Carers and the actions schools can take to support them. Here are some key items from the session:
Who are Young Carers?
- There are up to 800,000 young carers in the UK, which is up to 1 in 5 in the classroom.
The Children and Families Act 2014 place duties upon the local authority to carry out both young carers needs assessments and young carers transition assessments before the young carer turns 18 years old and when it would be of “significant benefit” to the individual young people.
What do Young Carers do?
- Physical care such as lifting, helping a parent on stairs, physiotherapy
- Practical tasks such as cooking, housework, shopping
- Personal care such as dressing, washing, helping with toileting needs
- Giving medication
- Managing the family budget, collecting benefits and prescriptions
- Looking after younger siblings
- Emotional support
What challenges do Young Carers face?
Young Carers can face an increase in the following issues:
- Physical injury / illness / developmental delay
- Emotional – anxiety / behaviour problems / mental ill health
- Social – isolation / bullying
- Educational – reduced attendance, lower attainment
- Future life chances
- Increased risk of Child Exploitation and Child Sexual Exploitation
In terms of education and school, evidence shows that being a young carer can impact on attendance, attainment, personal development and welfare:
- Over 25% miss school regularly
- Significantly lower education attainment at GCSE level – an average one grade lower across all subjects
- On average young carers miss or cut short 48 school days a year
- 62% said they were bullied
- 42% say there is not a particular person at school who recognised them as a carer
Young Carers’ experience of lockdown:
- 67% of Young Carers are more worried about the future since coronavirus
- 66% of young carers are feeling more stressed
- 59% of young adult carers say their mental health is worse
- 52% of young adult carers feel overwhelmed by the pressures they are facing now
What can schools do to support Young Carers?
- Is there a Young Carer staff lead?
- Are you raising awareness through both staff and students to reduce stigma?
- Can staff recognise indicators and action next steps? Indicators may include:
- Late or missing days or weeks off school for no reason, or struggling to complete homework
- Often tired, anxious or withdrawn
- Having problems socially, and may get on better with adults displaying mature behaviour
- A victim of bullying. This is sometimes explicitly linked to a family member’s disability, health or substance misuse problem
- Finding it difficult to concentrate
- Having difficulty in joining in extra-curricular activities or hobbies
- Isolated because of their family situation or because they lack social skills with their peers (and yet they are confident with adults)
- Anxious or concerned about an ill or disabled relative
- Displaying behavioural problems
- Having physical problems such as back pain (perhaps from heavy lifting)
- Secretive about home life
- Showing signs of physical neglect or poor diet
- Child in Need, Child Protection plan, or CLA, where parental ill health or addition issues are involved
You can call 0800 157 7015 to refer any child you are worried about, and who is not already supported by a statutory agency. Lines are open from 9am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 10am – 6pm at weekends, or go to barnardos.org.uk/see-hear-respond to use our secure referral form.
You can also email: YCiS@childrenssociety.org.uk
We are very grateful to our supporters Towergate and The Education Broker, whose support enables us to provide these sessions for free, and who are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of young people and staff in the education sector. Please visit their websites to learn more about what they do or call on 01438 739626 to discuss your insurance, risk management and health and wellbeing requirements.
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