The Children and Families Act and Care Act 2014, which come into force in April 2015, significantly strengthens the rights of young carers.
Currently under law, a young carer is entitled to an assessment of their needs, however assessments have to be requested and young carers have to be providing or intending to provide a substantial amount of care on a regular basis. This approach was not preventative and meant that young carers and their families had to be aware of their services and rights and ask for support.
Through the changes proposed in the Children and Families Act:
- All young carers under the age of 18 have a right to an assessment regardless of who they care for, what type of care they provide or how often they provide it.
- A young carer has the right to an assessment based on the appearance of need – which means that young carers will no longer have to request an assessment or be undertaking a ‘regular and substantial’ amount of care. An assessment also can be requested.
The proposed changes in the Care Act reinforce these new rights by requiring that local authorities:
- Must take a whole family approach to assessing and supporting adults so that young carer’s needs are identified when undertaking an adult or adult carer’s needs assessment
- Should ensure that adult’s and children’s social services work together to ensure assessments are effective.
This means when a child is identified as a young carer, the needs of everyone in the family are to be considered. This should trigger action from both children’s and adults services – assessing why a child is caring, what needs to change and what would help the family to prevent children from taking on this responsibility in the first place.
Carers Trust has produced a briefing on the Children and Families Act and its key provisions for young carers, young adult carers and their families. You can also read an overview of the rights for young carers and young adult carers and their families in both the Care Act and the Children and Families Act.