A new study from the Children’s Commissioner for England reveals that just a small fraction of young carers are receiving the support that they need. Here is a response on this from our CEO, Dympna Cunnane.
“This report makes grim reading and yet I am not surprised. How can we allow children as young as five to care for their families? The Care Act (2014) defines inappropriate or excessive care as ‘anything that is likely to have an impact on the child’s wellbeing or health or education or which is unsuitable for that particular child’. Any child who is caring for a family member will inevitably have their whole lives affected for their whole life. How can we ignore this and put all the resources into our ‘statutory’ responsibility to identify and assess rather than support? If it’s hard to identify and support young carers in general, how much more difficult it will be to identify and support children who have a parent with a mental illness, which is much more hidden and shameful, and therefore much less likely to be disclosed.
It is clear from global research that the stress of children living with a parent with mental illness affects their own mental health and attachment patterns. This needs to be addressed before the child or young person can concentrate on their own lives, their own ambitions and their own wellbeing. The plea for everyone who is in touch with families and children to take responsibility for these children is something we also wish for. We know that the child is not an isolated person: the systems and institutions that surround them need to change. It’s not enough just to treat the child or young person in isolation; we must take a systems approach, working with families, working with schools, and with all institutions that encounter children and young people.”
You can read the report here: https://www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk/publication/the-support-provided-to-young-carers-in-england/.