Schools are failing a generation of young carers

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Teachers are failing to identify and support children who are shouldering an extra burden as young carers

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7th December 2017 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

Schools are failing a generation of children who are sacrificing their futures to care for sick or disabled family members, Barnardo’s has found.

New research by the children’s charity shows how teachers are failing to identify and support children who are shouldering an extra burden as young carers by looking after their loved-ones.

As part of the research, a YouGov poll found that 40% of teachers were not confident they would be able to identify a young carer in their class.

More than a third (34%) of teachers surveyed thought there were young carers at their school who were not sufficiently supported and almost a third (29%) said they didn’t think their school had any particular ways of supporting young carers. 

This is despite some children and young people carrying out more than 30 hours a week of caring responsibilities – almost the equivalent of a full-time job – and filling in the gaps left in adult social care.

Barnardo’s research with practitioners working to support young carers has shown that caring can take a huge toll on children’s mental health, as well as their achievement at school.

More than three-quarters (75%) of the practitioners Barnardo’s surveyed said that most or all of the young carers they had supported had suffered from anxiety, depression, isolation and feelings of anger. All the practitioners had worked with children who had self-harmed.

Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “It is simply not acceptable that children are having to sacrifice their futures to care for the ones they love.

“Austerity has meant local authorities have had to cut back on adult social care and the result is children are picking up the pieces. A quarter of the children supported by Barnardo’s young carers’ services are carrying out more than 30 hours a week of caring – that’s the equivalent of a full time job.

“It’s clear from our research that there is a lack of awareness among teachers that needs urgently addressing. Schools need to take more responsibility to make sure young carers are properly supported.

“Looking after their family members is something that our young carers are incredibly proud of but it shouldn’t be at the expense of their childhoods or their futures.”

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