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5.27 Young Carers


Children and Families Act 2014, Section 96 (Young Carers)

Care Act 2014 – Section 63. Assessment of a young carer's needs for support

Care Act 2014 – Section 64. Young carer's assessments

Care and support statutory guidance (Dec 2016) - Section 6.65-6.73 Whole Family Approaches


This chapter has been fully updated in February 2017 to reference Liverpool's approach to identifying, assessing and supporting young carers in line with the agreed Adult and Children's Family Assessment and Early Help (EHAT) Pathway and Liverpool Young Carers Assessment Pathway.

Relevant provisions of the Children and Families Act 2014 and the Care Act 2014 in relation to young carers came into force on 1 April 2015.

Links have also been made to sections of the Children and Families Act 2014 which seeks to deal with young carers and their assessment as well as the Care Act 2014.

The Children and Families Act 2014 amended the Children Act (1989) to make it easier for young carers to get an assessment of their needs and to introduce 'whole family' approaches to assessment and support. Local authorities must offer an assessment where it appears that a child is involved in providing care.

This legislation is aligned with similar provision in the Care Act 2014 requiring local authorities to consider the needs of young carers if, during the assessment of an adult with care needs, or of an adult carer, it appears that a child is providing, or intends to provide, care. In these circumstances the authority must consider whether the care being provided by the child is excessive or inappropriate; and how the child's caring responsibilities affects their wellbeing, education and development.


  1. Introduction
  2. Referrals

1. Introduction

A young carer is defined in law as:

As a 'person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care to another person'. This includes 'providing practical or emotional support' which is 'not under or by virtue of a contract or of voluntary work'. (Children and Families Act, 2014).

More broadly, a carer is 'somebody who provides support or who looks after a family member, partner or friend and who needs help because of their age, physical or mental illness or disability'. (Care Act 2014).

Liverpool's locally agreed working definition is:

Young Carers can be defined as children and young people under the age of 18 years, who provide care to a family member, usually an adult, who has a physical illness/disability; mental ill health; sensory disability or has problematic use of drugs or alcohol. The level of care they provide would usually be undertaken by an adult and as a result of this has a significant impact on their normal childhood.

A young carer becomes vulnerable when the level of care-giving and responsibility to the person in need of care becomes excessive or inappropriate for that child, risking impacting on his or her emotional or physical wellbeing or educational achievement and life chances, (ADASS & ADCS No wrong doors: working together to support young carers and their families - A Model Local Memorandum of Understanding between Statutory Directors for Children's Services and Adult Social Services (2015)).

Young Carers tell us that they:

  • Have no one to talk to;
  • Are scared to tell anyone about their home circumstances;
  • Are tired and hungry, frightened and isolated;
  • Are stigmatised, ashamed and guilty;
  • Are worried about their home circumstances particularly the family's finances or being put into care;
  • Are looking after siblings as well as parents;
  • Have difficulty getting to school on time or to stay the whole day;
  • Find it difficult to concentrate and hold on to their tempers;
  • Need in information and explanations;
  • Lack confidence.

The evidence base and the 'lived experiences' of young carers includes:

  • Low level of school attendance;
  • Some educational difficulties;
  • Social isolation and poorer mental health and emotional wellbeing;
  • Conflict between loyalty to their family and their own needs.
Hidden young carers

Caution needs to be applied as many young carers remain hidden for a variety of reasons including:

  • They do not realise that they are a carer or that their life is different to their peers;
  • Their parent's do not realise that their children are carers;
  • They worry that the family will be split up and taken into care;
  • They don't want to be any different from their peers;
  • Their parent's condition is not obvious so people don't think that they need any help;
  • There has been no opportunity to share their story;
  • They see no reason or positive actions occurring as a result of telling their story.

2. Referrals

All agencies that identify children and young people under the age of 18 who may be at risk of taking on a caring role should initiate, dependent on their agencies agreed process, either a Pre-EHAT or Early Help Assessment (EHAT) to establish the level of impact. If the Pre-EHAT / EHAT identifies that the child's needs are likely to be as a result of undertaking a caring role a young carer's assessment should be requested. Barnardo's Action with Young Carers Service Liverpool undertakes the assessment, support plan and review under the statutory duty of the Council. Prior to requesting an assessment via a pre-EHAT/EHAT professionals can contact the service to request information, advice and guidance. The service actively encourages children, young people and family members to contact them to discuss what support is available so that they can make choices about whether they would like an assessment.

All agencies in contact with young carers should consider if the caring responsibilities risk becoming too much for the child. Identifying when caring has reached a point where it risks or has become inappropriate and adverse for young carers is principally a matter for assessment of whether the child or family need more formal support. At this point agencies should consider whether a referral for assessment to Children's Social Care should be made in line with 'LSCP Responding to Need'.

If any agency is concerned that the young carer is at serious risk of Neglect, abuse or harm, referral - using the Referrals, Investigation and Assessment Procedure - should be made to Children's Social Care, who should initiate a Strategy Discussion.