Information for Professionals


A lot of the children and young people who have a caring role will not identify themselves as a young carer. For some, it's because of concerns about being stigmatised, whilst for others it may be because it's what they've always done and is 'normal' for them. In some circumstances the family do not want the child or young person identified as a young carer, for fear of being seen as 'bad parents'. However, by providing information to the young person and their family about supports that are available, these fears can be allayed and the impact of caring can be reduced.

Identifying young carers

Social workers and teachers have been widely recognised as the people who are potentially most likely to identify hidden young carers. In school young carers often present as mature for their age with no or few peer relationships. Further indicators of being a young carer are:

  • Often late or miss school for no apparent reason - commonly with parental permission.
  • Parents lack of attendance at parents evenings
  • Difficulty joining in extracurricular activities
  • Isolated or a victim of bullying
  • Have limited social skills or few friends
  • Underachiever - homework either late, of poor quality or fail to complete homework because of caring responsibilities
  • May be unwell, or depressed themselves because of the strain of caring
  • Anxiety or concern over ill/disabled relative
  • Behavioural problems - many young carers display swings in mood/temperament. Extrovert when coping/things are going well at home, aggression when they are not coping with pressure.
  • Often tired or withdrawn

Professionals working with adults with disabilities/illnesses play an important role in supporting and identifying young carers. By asking clients who else cares for them at home, if they have children and what impact their health problem has on them, hidden young carers can be identified and supported. (Info from fife young carers: 2012)

Schools can help by:

  • Being alert to the things mentioned above
  • Knowing what support services are in place.  
  • Listening to young carers and being sensitive to their needs
  • Nominating a member of staff who will take the lead on young carers and know where to access further support
  • Making practical arrangements for young carers, e.g. access to a telephone to check on a parent, extra time for homework during a difficult period.
  • Pastoral support from the Education Welfare Service
  • Respect the wishes of young carers, by not drawing attention to them and keeping information confidential should they wish
  • Respect that each individual young carers needs are different.

Information for Health Staff

When working with an individual who have a disability or a long term limiting illness, substance misuse or a mental health problem consider where there are children in the family and whether they are providing regular and substantial care. If this is the case the following action can be taken:

  • Ensure that they are given appropriate and relevant information about the person's condition and medication.
  • Signpost to the Young Carers Project
  • Register the young person as a carer in GP surgeries
  • If you believe the child or young person to be at risk of harm due to the level of their caring responsibilities contact your local Children's Services team.

Young carer facts:

  • The average age of a young carer is 12.
  • The 2001 census showed that there are 175,000 young carers in the UK, 13,000 of whom care for more than 50 hours a week.
  • More than half of young carers live in one-parentfamilies and almost a third care for someone with mental health problems.

Young Carers in Schools

Young Carers in Schools is an exciting England-wide initiative that equips schools to support young carers and awards good practice.

Run jointly by Carers Trust and The Children's Society Young Carers in Focus partners, they are improving the identification and support of young carers in schools across the country, so that they get the help they need. This initiative is funded by The Queen's Trust and The Big Lottery Fund.

What does the Young Carers in Schools programme offer schools? 

By taking part in the Young Carers in Schools programme, schools will be able to show that they are meeting the needs of a particularly vulnerable group of pupils (specifically mentioned in Ofsted's School Inspection Handbook).

Through the programme you will have access to:

Supporting Young Carers in Schools: A Step-by-step Guide for Leaders, Teachers and Non-teaching Staff: making it as easy as possible for you to identify and support young carers, this resource helps you step-by-step and includes templates, tools and guidance.

Expert regional networks: bringing together schools, young carer services, and health and social care professionals for peer-to-peer learning and training. Opportunities will be available online and face-to-face to make sure everyone can get the best from these networks.

Young Carers in Schools Award: enabling your school to gain recognition from several leading charities for effective practice.

How to get involved:

The programme is currently being piloted with teachers and school professions in 16 Early Implementation Sites (EIS) who are working with us to meet the needs of young carers while they are at school.

From Spring 2015 you can all access the Step-by-step Guide and Young Carers in Schools Award criteria.

Get involved in the regional networks now and gain knowledge and good practice examples by signing up to receive the termly newsletter.  Visit here for more information

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