A young carer is a child or young person under the age of 18 who has responsibility for a relative who has a long term illness or disability or is older and frail. The caring role may be physical, emotional or both.

The family member may have a physical or learning disability, a long term life limiting illness, problems concerning mental health or alcohol or drug abuse related problems.



There are 177,918 young carers aged 5 -17 years in England and Wales (Census 2011)


Young carers may be:

  • Children or young people who are the sole carer in the home
  • Children or young people who are supporting another adult family member in care tasks
  • Children or young people who are also taking on parenting responsibilities for younger brothers and sisters because their parents are unable to or need assistance at particular times
  • Children or young people who are not necessarily providing care but are substantially affected by disability in the family

New rights for young carers

The Children and Families Act 2014 is an important new piece of legislation.

Young carers, young adult carers and their families now have stronger rights to be:

  • identified
  • offered information
  • receive an assessment
  • supported using a whole-family approach.

The Act defines a young carer as “a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person“, this includes practical and/or emotional support.

Rights to an Assessment

The local council must carry out a young carer’s needs assessment if:

  • the young carer may have needs for support
  • the young carer requests an assessment.
  • the young carer’s parents request an assessment
  • the young carer has already been assessed but their needs or circumstances or person receiving care has changed
  • a previous assessment did not cover the young carers needs in relation to another person they care for
  • the council can refuse to carry out an assessment if:
  • the young carer does not appear to have needs for support
  • the council has already carried out an assessment of the young carer’s need for support connected with their care for a particular person and circumstances have not changed.

The assessment must consider:

  • the extent to which the young carer provides or intends to provide inappropriate or excessive care.
  • the young carer’s needs and wishes including: education; work; training and recreation.
  • the impact on the young carer’s wellbeing, person development, physical health, mental health and emotional health.

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Taking Action After the Assessment

The council must:

  • decide what actions to take based on the assessment. e.g. provide services.
  • identify the young carer’s friends and family and consider how they can help the young carer to achieve their goals identified in the assessment.
  • arrange a review of the assessment.

Specialised support for carers aged 18 and under is then provided by national charity Spurgeons across Dudley borough on behalf of the council.

They offer:

  • 1-2-1 young carer support
  • Information, guidance and signposting
  • Emotional support through counselling
  • Training sessions and workshops
  • Holiday activities
  • 10 week F.U.N (Fitness, Understanding, Nutrition programme for young carers)
  • Regular newsletters
  • Support at professional meetings
  • School support and transition to college/university or employment.

Spurgeons also works in schools and colleges to help them to recognise and support young carers. In addition they have a small amount of funding to develop support for young adult carers aged 19-25 years. Contact them on 01902 877 550, email ajones@spurgeons.org or see www.spurgeons.org.


Connexions offers advice to young people between the ages of 13-19 (or 25 if you have a disability) on a range of topics from employment and training, to health and housing needs. Staff from Connexions are aware of the role of young carers and where additional support may be found. Click on the link for information about Connexions and local contact details http://www.connexionsdudley.org/.

The What? Centre

The What Centre offers advice, information and counselling sessions to all young people between the ages of 13-25. They also offer individual support to young adult carers between the ages of 18-25. Contact them on 01384 379992 or email thewhatcentre@aol.com or see their website www.thewhatcentre.com.






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