Identify young adult carers in your institution
By identifying the numbers of young adult carers in your institution you will be able to commission services to meet their needs. Carers Trust recommends adding a field to college application forms to identify as early whether the student has a caring role. By taking this step you will be able to proactively engage and support young adult carers from the moment they start at the institution.
Raise awareness of carers and caring among students
Some young adult carers may not realise that they are in a caring role as caring is something that they have always done. It is important to raise awareness of caring amongst students and offer support if they come forward to disclose their caring status.
Carers Trust recommends that you publicise who young adult carers are and the services available to support them as much as possible in the school. Even a poster can make a difference to a young adult carers life.
Raise awareness of carers among staff
Ensure that all staff members are aware of what a young adult carer is, the challenges they may face and available solutions. Research has shown that 75% of respondents informed college or university staff of their caring role but almost half 45% said no one recognised them as a carer and helped them.
Some of the signs that someone may be a young adult carer include:
- being late for classes
- handing in homework/ coursework late or incomplete
- difficulty concentrating
- high levels of absence
- drops in grades
- Low confidence.
If you suspect that a student may be a carer, take some time to talk to them and offer support to work through their issues so they can achieve the best grades possible whilst at college.
Engage with the local carers services
Most areas will have a local carers service nearby where students can access support. You can find them by looking at the carers services map or via your local authorities’ web page or advice line.
Carers services will be able to advise you on the appropriate steps to take if a student discloses that they are a carer.
Carers Services may be interested in working with colleges to raise awareness so see if anyone would be available at your local service. Give them a call to see what they can offer you.
What is already being done to support young adult carers at college
There is growing recognition that young adult carers need better support at college. Two significant pieces of research of carers at university are Young adult carers experiences at college and university published by Carers Trust and Learning with Care published by the National Union of Students (NUS). These show examples of good practice and have recommendations on how colleges can better support young adult carers.
Carers Trust is currently working with a group of colleges to produce a toolkit so universities can better support young adult carers. The toolkit will be available in early 2015. Keep checking the website for more details.
Carers Trust in partnership with NUS and The University of Nottingham held an event over two days in June 2014. 200 young adult carers, support workers and decision makers came together to discuss how young adult carers could be better supported to access college.