2.6 Supporting young carers
In the situation with Helen and Sean, early help could prevent further difficulties. Young carers may need support with a range of psychological, financial and practical issues. There may be scope for exploring the strengthening of support networks and promoting inclusion in mainstream activities. Social workers also need to explore the most appropriate sources of support with young carers, and it is likely that a range of agencies may have a contribution to make, with health, education and social work professionals working together. Moreover, young carers may experience poverty as their parents are unlikely to be working.
Young carers can develop a sense of achievement through their caring, and may develop many practical skills. It can be useful for young carers to have advice and practical help from another adult such as a support worker or relative; as well as having the support of a young carers project. It is important that their school understands their situation, responds sensitively to their needs and doesn’t add to their pressures. For example, a key pastoral member of staff could keep in close touch with Helen and Sean, and perhaps make sure that they don’t have homework difficulties that are not of their own making:
When assessing young carers, colleagues from education may need to share information if a young carers’ educational needs are to be addressed. Where there is a local young carers’ project, young carers can be referred to these groups for support. Additional needs may be for counselling or bereavement support. Parents may require financial advice from specialist supporters such as the Citizens Advice Bureau or local money advice organisations to ensure they are receiving all of the benefits to which they are entitled.
It is always best if both adult and young carers are involved in assessments and reviews, in which case professionals have to be very careful about communication both between agencies and family members.
In the final section of this course, you are going to explore the transition to residential care and the social work role in supporting adults making that transition.