Information for professionals
Many children and young people who are caring for someone in their family do not see themselves as young carers. Sometimes they have grown up with their caring role and it seems normal to them, for others it is because they do not want to be seen as different or singled out from their peers and stigmatised or judged.
Identifying young carers
Social workers and professionals within an education setting such as teachers or support staff 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.
Some indicators that a young person may be a young carer are:
- They are often late or miss school for no apparent reason, often with parental permission
- They may be underachieving at school or struggling to keep up with homework, often handing in work late or of poor quality
- They can present as being tired or withdrawn or not want to talk about their home life
- Have difficulty in taking part in after schools clubs or outside activities
- Are often isolated from their peers or a victim or bullying
- Express anxiety or concern over someone at home (the person they care for)
- Have behavioural problems or have difficulty concentrating.
Teachers, tutors or support staff can help young carers and young adult carers self identify by checking if they are caring for a family member. These children and young people may be undertaking emotional or practical tasks within their families that involve supporting an adult or sibling, undertaking household tasks, shopping, dealing with finances, and looking after younger siblings because the person they care for is unable to. With support a young carer can achieve in school or college and fulfil their potential.
Professionals who work with adults with a disability or illness play an important role in supporting and identifying young carers by simply asking the adult they are working with if there is a child who is caring for them at home.
Referrals can then be made to the local Spurgeons Young Carer service.
Families can also self refer into the service.