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Young Carers


In September 2018, this chapter was significantly updated and should be re-read in its entirety.


  1. Introduction
  2. Overview
  3. Definition of a Young Carer
  4. What Young Carers Locally Have Said is Important
  5. The Young Carers (Needs Assessments) Regulations 2015 and Amendments to the Children Act 1989
  6. South Gloucestershire Arrangements for Young Carer Assessments
  7. Outcomes of Referrals
  8. Transition
  9. The Role of Carers Support Centre
  10. Joint Working Between the Council and Carers Support Centre
  11. Further Guidance for Adult Care Practitioner - Identifying Young Carers and Promoting Well Being

    Appendix 1: The Young Carers (Needs Assessments) Regulations 2015 and Amendments to the Children Act 1989

    Appendix 2: Definition of Well-being

    Appendix 3: Eligibility Criteria for Bristol & South Gloucestershire Young Carers

1. Introduction

This guidance sets out the national regulations relating to young carers, and good practice guidance drawn from national documents, including the Memorandum of Understanding between adult social care and children’s services.

It also incorporates a pathway for the identification of young carers and the services that are available to support them in South Gloucestershire.

This document uses the terminology of young carers throughout. Young carers who are referred for assessment can also be seen as children or young people who might be a young carer. The local engagement forum for young carers, Young Carers Voice, accepts the terminology of young carers, and its members are proud of their identity as young carers.

2. Overview

Our starting point is that children and young people who are carers have the same rights as all children and young people. Young carers should be able to learn, achieve, develop friendships and enjoy positive, healthy childhoods. Recognising the needs of young carers mean taking account of their hopes, aspirations, strengths and achievements, and the need for advice and support for all the family.

Many young Carers are proud of what they do and the essential skills and resilience they have developed through their caring role.

However statistics show that there are a number of ‘hidden’ young carers. For some young people there remains a stigma associated with being a young carer, and some young people are reluctant to identify themselves as a carer through fear of the consequences for their family unit

The Children and Family Act 2014 amended the Children Act 1989 to make it easier for young carers to get an assessment of their needs and to introduce “whole family” approaches to assessment and support. The changes strengthen the rights of young carers and their families to be identified and supported. Young carers have the right to an assessment of their support needs regardless of who they care for, what type of care they provide or how often they provide it. Assessments are a duty relating to the appearance of need. 

This legislation is aligned with similar provision in the Care Act 2014 (Sections 60-64), requiring local authorities to consider the needs of young carers, if during an assessment of an adult with care needs, or of an adult carer, it appears that a child is providing or intends to provide care. 

In all cases the authority must consider whether the care being provided by the child is excessive or inappropriate; how the child’s caring responsibilities affects their well-being, education and development; and the outcomes the young carer wishes to achieve in their day to day life. For example, the caring role may limit the child’s educational opportunities, because it affects their school attendance or performance. It may also affect the child building relationships and friendships, leading to isolation and low mood.

Whilst a child might carry out relatively minor care tasks within their competence, the time these take up and the demands they make on the child could place significant limits on their life.

There are no nationally adopted definitions of inappropriate tasks, but they could include the following:

  • Personal care such as bathing and toileting;
  • Carrying out strenuous physical tasks such as lifting;
  • Administering medication;
  • Maintaining the family budget;
  • Offering emotional support to the adult, i.e. the child is parenting their parent.

The assessment will support the local authority in determining if the young carer is a child in need and the services, if any, that should be provided. The wishes, feelings and aspirations of young carers and their families should be at the heart of a young carers’ needs assessment. Many young carers may be highly motivated to make a positive contribution to their families but assessors will need to ask what needs to be done if their caring role limits their potential. 

Assessments of a young carer must always take into account the capacity of their parents to offer a level of care necessary to respond appropriately to the child’s needs. Parenting capacity will need to be assessed in the context of the family’s structure and how family members relate to one another and to their wider community. Where the person is a young carer, caring for their parent it will be important to protect the child from taking on a role in which they feel responsible for “parenting” the adult who would usually be caring for them.

3. Definition of a Young Carer

A young carer is:
'…a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person of any age (except where that care is provided for payment, pursuant to a contract or as voluntary work).' Children and Families Act 2014 Section 96.

4. What Young Carers Locally Have Said is Important

Young carers want to be able to speak to someone who understands the pressures and complexities young carers face. It can be difficult for young carers to open up to new people and there can still be a fear of what the implications of “opening up” may bring. 

It is important that practitioners understand the help that is available and how to link young carers to this. They also want to limit the number of people they have to tell their story to - please see section below on arrangements with the Carers Support Centre for joint working.

Young carers have reviewed this document, and have highlighted the following as good practice in relation to young carer assessments:

Before meeting the young person:

  • Know their story;
  • Research;
  • Provide young carer with info / questionnaire / something to think about.

During the meeting:

  • Assessments are good in a school environment, where the young carer is comfortable, or at home in separate rooms;
  • Age appropriate;
  • They are proud for their story to be known and to be young carers;
  • Prefer parents / those cared for not to be present;
  • Ask about specific tasks, how do they make the young carer feel?
  • Don’t use jargon / abbreviations.

Following the meeting:

  • Explain what the outcomes are;
  • Make outcomes clear.


  • Explain the reason for your visit;
  • Take time to listen;
  • Be yourself & genuine (not over friendly);
  • Be guided by the young person in setting the tone;
  • Ask questions if you don’t understand;
  • Make sure it flows;
  • Get to the point and focus on the caring instead of beating around the bush;
  • Keep it informal & relaxed & make it enjoyable;
  • Respect personal space- ask where to sit etc;
  • Explain what’s going to happen next;
  • We’d like to know who’s who in the team, what their roles are?
  • Give the family the opportunity to ask any questions at the end.


  • Don’t force it and let conversations flow (Don’t be rigid with order of questions);
  • Don’t make it too serious.

5. The Young Carers (Needs Assessments) Regulations 2015 and Amendments to the Children Act 1989

See Appendix 1: The Young Carers (Needs Assessments) Regulations 2015 and Amendments to the Children Act 1989 for full details, including those areas that have to be covered in the assessment of the young carer.

Appendix 2: Definition of Well-being sets out the domains relating to well-being, as set out in the Care Act 2014.

6. South Gloucestershire Arrangements for Young Carer Assessments

The Access and Response Teams are responsible for carrying out young carers assessments unless there is already an allocated social worker for the child in which case that worker will be responsible for the young carer’s assessment.

Carers Support Centre may also receive referrals for young carers to receive their services, and will complete a young carers assessment in these cases. They may carry out a joint assessment with the relevant council service - please see Section 10, Joint Working Between the Council and Carers Support Centre.

When completed by a council practitioner, the assessment will be completed on a Children and Family Assessment Plan, within the Signs of Safety Model, building on the strengths of the child and family. Workers should focus on the areas that are particularly pertinent to young carers, please see Appendix 1: The Young Carers (Needs Assessments) Regulations 2015 and Amendments to the Children Act 1989 of this guidance, and these areas should be clearly recorded in the assessment. The assessment should also detail if the young carer is a child in need and any support or services provided as a result.

7. Outcomes of Referrals

The immediate response to referrals may be:

  • No further action from Integrated Children’s Services - however given that young carers’ rights to an assessment is based on appearance of need, most referrals are likely to result in an assessment. Feedback should be given to the child, family and referrers including why the case might not have met the statutory threshold and suggestions for other sources of support. In the case of referrals from members of the public, feedback must be consistent with the rights to confidentiality of the child and their family. Arrangements need to be in place for professional referrers to be able to challenge such decisions;
  • Signposting to other agencies and services;
  • Provision of services;
  • An assessment of need;
  • Emergency action to protect a child;
  • A Section 47 Strategy Discussion.

All plans developed following a young carer’s needs assessment might helpfully include:

  • Information about how the child will be helped to thrive outside their caring role e.g. to participate in school, education and training; to maintain or achieve an appropriate standard of health; and to enable the child to enjoy and achieve, in the same way as other children who do not have caring responsibilities;
  • Details about any support to be provided to the parents of a young carer to build their parenting capacity; and to prevent the child from taking on an inappropriate or excessive caring role;
  • Information about and referral to local support in schools and from the voluntary sector, primarily Carers Support Centre.

8. Transition

There is a risk that effective planning and support for a young carer may be disrupted at the point of transition to adulthood. Discussions about any needs for support into adult life should be a feature of assessment and planning for young carers throughout their teenage years.

Transition assessments must consider whether the carer is able to care now and whether they are prepared and willing to continue to be a carer after the age of 18. Assessments must focus on the young persons future hopes, wishes, feeling and ambitions.

The assessment could include:

  • Family relationships: including the potential and capacity of their family network, parents, siblings, other relatives and friends, to help and encourage the young person to make a positive transition;
  • Social support: including the young person’s relationship with friends and involvement in support networks - e.g. groups for young carers/ young adult carers;
  • Education, training and employment: arrangements for young people to complete their secondary education and move on to higher education, training or employment;
  • Accommodation and independent living: including the young person’s future plans and any intentions they may have to live independently. These plans may link to their ambitions to go to university or seek employment away from their home area;
  • Health, development and general well-being: including recognition of the young person’s physical emotional and mental health needs and an evaluation of their capacity to obtain access to health care in the same way as other young people who do not have care responsibilities;
  • "Financial literacy” and skills in financial management: including information about how it is expected a young person will support themselves financially in future.

9. The Role of Carers Support Centre

Carers Support Centre has been delivering support and respite to young carers for 25 years. They offer one-to-one support, support in school or work, regular groups, trips and activities to young carers aged 8-18. Carers Support Centre is a charity and requires the consent of all parents/guardians of young carers before carrying out statutory carers’ assessments or inviting young carers to groups or activities.

Carers Support Service Young Carers Service is commissioned by the council to provide a range of support to young carers and their families. The services available are tiered depending on the individual needs of the young carer. 

What Carers Support Centre (CSC) can offer

  • A whole family young carers needs assessment - this is compliant with the Children and Family Act 2014 and the Care Act. Every child worked with has a young carers assessment prior to beginning work with the CSC. This is to determine their level of need and which support tier they should be in. The assessment is delivered to the whole family, while ensuring both parent and young carer have the space and confidentiality to express their thoughts and experiences fully;
  • One-to-one work: Young carers with medium or high levels of need will have access to a one-to-one keyworker, who will work with them on their identified priorities. This could include building emotional resilience, developing personal boundaries, coping strategies, or more practical help, including financial information and time management. This could also include creative sessions at CSC to allow the young carer to find their voice and express themselves;
  • Bi-annual reviews;
  • Breaks from caring; trips and activities - money received as donations is used to fund trips and activities for young carers in the school holidays. Recently, these have included a trip to Legoland, a residential at Honeypot in Wales, the Young Carers Festival weekend, an allotment group, wildlife tasters, fun and games sessions, and football groups;
  • Young Carers Voice - the young carers participation group;
  • Young Carers in Schools Programme - encouraging and supporting schools to identify and support young carers. This is available to all schools, and the CSC help schools develop good practice. Practitioners can contact schools directly to ask what support for young carers is available, or contact CSC for details;
  • Health and well-being focused projects;
  • Partnership projects including Jolibuddies mentoring;
  • Free family days out and opportunities locally;
  • Individual applications for grant funding to meet an identified need;
  • Swimming lessons for non-swimmers;
  • Awareness raising of young carers for a wide variety of professionals and community groups, to ensure they understand young carer issues and how best to support young carers.

CSC Groups

Heroes group is for 8-12 year olds. It is run fortnightly for six weeks, and takes place twice a year. The sessions aim to improve confidence, self-esteem and find coping strategies. The young carers explore the issues they face in a supportive and gentle way with creative play and activities.

13 Up Club is a group for South Gloucestershire young carers age 13-18. This group is led by the young carers who choose the range of activities. It is a space for young carers to be young people and enjoy time with peers who know what life is like as a young carer. The group is held on a Saturday once a month.

CSC also hold regular short group courses; for example, a boys cooking group ran earlier this year, and there is ongoing Dance and Movement Therapy.

Young carers are also referred to suitable groups and positive activities locally.

Please see Appendix 3: Eligibility Criteria for Bristol & South Gloucestershire Young Carers for details of the referral criteria for Carers Support Centre Young Carers Service.

10. Joint Working Between the Council and Carers Support Centre

Experience from Carers Support Centre shows that joint working (i.e. CSC and statutory services) has proven effective in reducing duplication of work and improving outcomes for young carers. Delivering interventions and assessments together improves engagement levels in families previously displaying high levels of need, offers more opportunities for contact and communication, and helps ensure services are delivered in a relevant and targeted way.

The focus of joint working is that young carers and their families receive an assessment from an appropriate organisation, but that this is not duplicated.

It is recognised that there can still be a stigma attached to being a young carer and families may be reluctant to engage with the council to ask for support. It is therefore important that families also have the option to go directly to Carers Support Centre for advice, information, assessment and support.

Carers Support Centre will contact the Access and Response Teams for advice as and when needed. Carers Support Centre will continue to refer to the council where they have identified a child in need. If a parent is refusing to accept the young person is a carer and is refusing the young carer assessment, Carers Support Centre should discuss with the Access and Response Teams whether a Children and Family Assessment Plan Section 17 assessment is required.

Where a young carer has been identified to the Access and Response Teams or 0-18 team, and a Children and Family Assessment Plan is being completed, the council should consider if a joint assessment with Carers Support Centre is appropriate, and if the parents are in agreement to this approach. Similarly Carers Support Centre may also request that the council completes a joint assessment with them if there are particularly complex issues or where a family referred to them has involvement with statutory services.

11. Further Guidance for Adult Care Practitioner - Identifying Young Carers and Promoting Well Being

At the first point of contact, all those undertaking or receiving referrals or with responsibility for undertaking assessments will have a key role in identifying young carers. At the point of assessing the cared-for person, it is important to ask whether there are children in the same household as the person they are assessing and, if they do, to establish how much care and support is undertaken by any children through discussions with any adult who is being assessed and other family members, including the child(ren) concerned.

Practitioners responsible for assessing people with care needs should identify how it will be possible to support the person in need of care so that children and young people are not relied on to provide excessive or inappropriate care. It will be essential that the particular vulnerabilities and needs of children and young people are recognised. Practitioners responsible for assessing adults with care needs must be able to recognise and respond to risks to children’s safety and welfare. They must know how to respond where they have concerns that children are, or may be, suffering significant harm.

Where a young carer a “child in need” needing protection and support or needs early help support, adult workers will discuss the case with Integrated Children’s Services to decide if further action is needed. Further action might include:

  • An assessment by the Access and Response Teams;
  • Accessing preventative support through the “Early Help Network”;
  • A joint assessment where appropriate (there is provision in the Care Act Guidance) and in Section 17 of the Children Act to combine a young carers assessment with that of the adult; or
  • Further investigation by Children’s Services about safeguarding concerns if there is a likelihood of significant harm to the child. Children’s services will undertake the provision of services or support to children in need and Adult Care will undertake services and support to the adult.

Champion network across organisations

A network of staff involved in identifying and assessing young carers is being set up to include practitioners from:

  • The Access and Response Teams;
  • 0-18 Children and Disabilities Team;
  • Adult care;
  • Drug and alcohol services provided by Developing Health and Independence;
  • A representative of school nursing;
  • A representative from Avon and Wiltshire Partnership Trust;
  • Carers Support Centre;
  • Locality teams/ and or preventative services;
  • The Partnerships and Commissioning Team.

Practitioners will take their learning back to their teams, and will provide a sounding board for colleagues in relation to young carers.

The group meets quarterly to share experiences and knowledge, promote joint working and keep up to date on changes in legislation and good practice. Your Team Manager will be able to advise you of your ‘Team Champion’ contact details.

Appendix 1: The Young Carers (Needs Assessments) Regulations 2015 and Amendments to the Children Act 1989

These Regulations came into force on 1st April 2015. 

Section 17 of the Children Act 1989: Duty to Assess Young Carers

This section imposes a duty on local authorities to assess whether young carers in their area have needs for support and, if so, to assess what those needs are, if:

  1. It appears to the authority that the young carer may have needs for support; or
  2. The authority receive a request from the young carer or a parent of the young carer to assess the young carer’s needs for support.

The local authority does not have a duty to assess the young carer if it has previously carried out a care-related assessment of the young carer in relation to the same person cared for. However the duty to assess applies if it appears to the authority that the needs or circumstances of the young carer or the person cared for have changed since the last care-related assessment.

A local authority must carry out a young carer’s needs assessment in a manner which is appropriate and proportionate to the needs and circumstances of the young carer to whom it relates.

What the Assessment Must Cover

The local authority must provide the young carer, the person cared for, the young carers’ parents and any other person whom the young carer or a parent of the young carer requests should participate in the assessment with information about the manner and form of the assessment, to enable the persons to participate effectively in the assessment.

The local authority must, so far as reasonably practicable, provide the information prior to the assessment, and in a format which is accessible to the young carer.

A young carer’s needs assessment must include an assessment of whether it is appropriate for the young carer to provide, or continue to provide, care for the person in question, in the light of the young carer’s needs for support, other needs and wishes.

A local authority, in carrying out a young carer’s needs assessment, must have regard to -

  1. The young carer’s age, understanding and family circumstances;
  2. The wishes, feelings and preferences of the young carer;
  3. Any differences of opinion between the young carer, the young carer’s parents and the person cared for, with respect to the care which the young carer provides (or intends to provide); and
  4. The outcomes the young carer seeks from the assessment;
  5. Whether the young carer is participating in or wishes to participate in education, training or recreation;
  6. Whether the young carer works or wishes to work;
  7. The amount, nature and type of care which the young carer provides (or intends to provide);
  8. The extent to which this care is (or will be) relied upon by the family, including the wider family, to maintain the well-being of the person cared for;
  9. Whether the care which the young carer provides (or intends to provide) impacts on the young carer’s well-being, education and personal and emotional development; The local authority must consider the impact of the needs of the young carer’s family on the well-being of the young carer and any child in that family;
  10. Whether any of the tasks which the young carer is performing (or intends to perform) when providing care are excessive or inappropriate for the young carer to perform having regard to all the circumstances, and in particular the carer’s age, sex, wishes and feelings;
  11. Whether any of the young carer’s needs for support could be prevented by providing services to:
    1. The person cared for; or
    2. Another member of the young carer’s family;
  12. What the young carer’s needs for support would be likely to be if they were relieved of part or all of the tasks the young carer performs (or intends to perform) when providing care;
  13. Whether any other assessment of the needs for support of the young carer or the person cared for has been carried out;
  14. Consulting persons with expertise and knowledge in relation to the young carer, where they consider it appropriate to do so.

Who Must be involved in the Assessment

A local authority, in carrying out a young carer’s needs assessment, must involve:

  1. The young carer;
  2. The young carer’s parents; and
  3. Any person whom the young carer or a parent of the young carer requests the authority to involve.

Where a local authority may combine an assessment if the young carer and the person cared for only if the young carer and the person cared for agree.

Consideration of the Assessment

Local authorities should consider:

  1. Whether the young carer is a child in need;
  2. Whether the young carer has needs for support in relation to the care which he or she provides or intends to provide;
  3. That they must identify the young carer’s friends and family, and consider how those persons can contribute to meeting the outcomes which the young carer seeks from the assessment. The assessment should take into account the strengths of a family, as well as identifying any challenges faced by its members;
  4. If so, whether those needs could be satisfied (wholly or partly) by services which the authority may provide under Section 17; and
  5. If they could be so satisfied, whether or not to provide any such services in relation to the young carer;
  6. Any actions to be taken as a result of the assessment; and
  7. The arrangements for a future review.

Written Records of the Assessment

A local authority must give a written record of the assessment to:

  1. The young carer;
  2. The young carer’s parents; and
  3. Any person to whom the young carer or a parent of the young carer requests the authority to give a copy.

Where the person cared for is under 18, the written record must state whether the local authority consider him or her to be a child in need.

Training and Knowledge of Assessors 

A local authority must ensure that any individual carrying out a young carer’s needs assessment on their behalf:

  1. Is appropriately trained;
  2. Has sufficient knowledge and skill to be able to carry out that assessment; and
  3. Is an appropriate person to carry out the assessment having regard to the young carer’s circumstances, in particular the young carer’s age, sex and understanding.

Appendix 2: Definition of Well-being

In this regulation, “well-being” has the same meaning as in Part 1 of the Care Act 2014.

Well-being is a broad concept and it is described as relating to the following areas in particular:

  • Personal dignity, including treatment of the individual with respect;
  • Physical and mental health and emotional well-being;
  • Protection from abuse and neglect;
  • Control by the individual over day-to-day life (including control over care and support provided and the way it is provided);
  • Participation in work, education, training or recreation;
  • Social and economic well-being;
  • Domestic, family and personal relationships;
  • Suitability of living accommodation;
  • The individual’s contribution to society.

Appendix 3: Eligibility Criteria for Bristol & South Gloucestershire Young Carers

Please read through these guidelines before making a referral. Demands for our service exceed our capacity, and we operate a waiting list. We understand the complicated dynamics of some families, so please feel free to contact us if you are unsure whether or not a referral is appropriate.

Definition of a young carer: Young carers are children and young people aged 18 and under who provide care to someone in their family who has a disability, a long term illness, or is affected by mental ill health or substance misuse. Young carers have to take on caring responsibilities, both practical and emotional, that would normally be expected of an adult.

Eligibility criteria: To meet eligibility for a service, children and young people must meet our definition of a young carer. The service is funded to work with young carers aged 8-18, and we are unable accept referrals for young carers outside this age bracket. We advise agencies to complete a CAF or contact CYPS for young carers aged 7 and under who are significantly affected by caring responsibilities. At referral stage you will be asked to identify the caring responsibilities (practical and/or emotional) undertaken by the child or young person as well as the impact those responsibilities are having upon on the following:

  • Physical and mental health;
  • Education;
  • Emotional and behavioural development;
  • Family and social/peer relationships.

In cases where either of these points are unclear i.e. caring responsibilities or impact on the child or young person, you will be asked to clarify (this can cause delays in processing the referral). The level of impact this is having on the child or young person will influence the priority of need, thus influencing the speed at which we provide an assessment.

Children and young people may not be eligible if:

  • Care tasks are age appropriate and do not exceed what an ‘average’ child of their age would undertake (e.g. a teenager helping with some house work, walking to the local shop etc);
  • They are helping to support a primary adult carer with care tasks i.e. they are a minimal secondary carer;
  • They are living with a family member who is ill, disabled or misusing substances but are not providing care for that person, for themselves or for siblings;
  • Their caring responsibilities are due to parenting issues or neglect (i.e. caring for siblings because parents are working or inattentive);
  • There is no parental consent.

Referral process:

Following a referral, we will inform the family that we have received a referral for them. The referral will be prioritised based on need and added to the waiting list until we are able to visit the family. If it has been some time since the referral has been made, we may contact the referrer before arranging the home visit, to check if the situation has changed significantly. At the home visit we will complete an assessment and will inform the family and the referrer whether we are able to offer a service as soon as possible.


If the child or young person meets our criteria, we will offer them a tiered level service which meets their needs,which can includes access to group activities, one-to-one and family support. This will be reviewed after one year and due to demand, we cannot guarantee that the service will continue if their circumstances change, likewise they may require an increased level of support. Referrers will not automatically be informed of the outcome of these reviews.

To contact a member of the Young Carers team, please call 0117 939 2562 or email: