Councils are not doing enough to support children who care for disabled parents, Ofsted said in a report today.
The study, Supporting Young Carers, found that inconsistent joint working between children’s and adults’ services, a lack of awareness among some professionals and families’ reluctance to engage with service providers were the key barriers to identifying the needs of young carers.
The findings were based on provision in eight council areas and interviews with 50 young carers.
Children’s views not considered
Seven of the eight council areas visited did not consistently consider children’s views when assessing their parents’ disabilities. Only three of the 37 young carers with disabled parents said their views had been sought or included in a parent’s assessment, the report found.
Ofsted chief inspector Christine Gilbert criticised the lack of consultation with children: “Councils and their partners need to work together to identify and support young carers and their families. It is unacceptable that for most young carers no assessment of their own needs was conducted by children’s social care professionals.”
Families’ fears over being broken up also led to a lack of engagement with services, with parents with substance misuse or mental health issues being the most difficult for social care professionals to identify, the report acknowledged.
The report highlighted good practice in supporting young carers. However, projects reported having limited capacity, with children having to wait up to eight months to access schemes in some areas.
Ofsted called for the Department for Children Schools and Families to identify the numbers of young carers nationally and in each council and for children’s and adults’ services to work more closely together to carry out assessments that meet the needs of the whole family.