Please find below some of the frequently asked questions that we have received at our events or in response to our eBulletins.
If you have more questions that you would like to be answered here, please feel free to email us. This page will be updated monthly, so please make sure to visit regularly.
Disclaimer: The below answers do not constitute legal advice. Please seek further advice from your solicitors regarding any matters referring to legislation.
Identification & Referral
- How do we help other agencies to recognise and refer young/young adult carers?
- How do we encourage young carers to self-refer and feel there is something worthwhile for them in an assessment?
- Identification of young carers is low in Adult Services – how do we improve this?
- Could you say some more about the requirement to take “reasonable steps” to identify young carers in our area?
- Who is responsible for identifying young carers?
- How do we support young carers and young adult carers to understand their role as carers and self-identify as such?
- Do we need to do different assessments for young carers and young adult carers?
- How should assessments be approached when there is no consent?
- Is there guidance regarding assessments – what they should include, how they should be structured, how often should they be performed?
- How are young adult carers supported as part of the project and how can we prioritise supporting Young Carers through transition to adult services?
- How do we effectively support young carers through transition? e.g. combining assessments in practice; consistent support through transition.
- How do we develop young adult carer services in Local Authorities which are traditionally split into children or adult services?
- What are the advantages of joint commissioning for young carers?
- How does joint working happen in reality with multiple budgets?
- How do we get Adults and Children’s Services to work collaboratively?
- How can we help schools understand young carers and their pressures, to encourage them to increase identification and support of young carers?
- How do we meet the needs of young carers and the new duties in legislation within a challenging financial climate, with less staff and more work on wider remit?
How do we help other agencies to recognise and refer young/young adult carers?
It is important that all agencies recognise who young carers are and the support that helps them and their families. There is of course no one-way to achieve this, but rather a multi-faceted approach is required. Where local authorities have a strong multi-agency steering or strategy group in place with a wide number of stakeholders this often acts as a useful conduit to agencies connected to those member stakeholders.
Where local authorities have developed a local Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to support joint working this can be used to raise awareness of young carers and the need to identify and support them. Wider reach to a greater number of agencies and frontline staff can be achieved through a launch event and through Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training and events.
Some local authorities have used conferences to initiate awareness and recognition of young carers – targeting a wide range of agencies from children’s and adult services, health, education, mental health and substance misuse services, as well as others such as police and housing. Local authorities might wish to consider developing a clear web portal that sets out who young carers are, the support they are entitled to and how to refer young or young adult carers and their families (including criteria and referral processes/forms) for assessment and support. Such a portal or platform would be useful for professionals but also for young carers and their families as well. Pushing the MoU out through CPD is key and for this to be effective training on young carers needs to be embedded into CPD programmes. Many local young carers’ services are able to support with such training. The YCIS programme is a great way of ensuring that schools recognise young carers.
Across the country there are school nurses who are trained so they can better identify and support young carers. Many universities are now carrying out outreach activities to identify young carers and support them to access higher education.
The 28th January 2016 is the next Young Carers Awareness Day and local authorities may wish to use this date as a focal point for raising the recognition of young carers in their area.
How do we encourage young carers to self-refer and feel there is something worthwhile for them in an assessment?
It’s important to encourage young carers to self-refer, perhaps by asking a simple question such as, “Is there anyone at home who can’t manage without your support?” While self-referral is of course important, this can’t take the place of the local authority’s duty to take reasonable steps to identify young carers and offer them an assessment.
The assessment focuses on outcomes for the young carer, and a good assessment should be a process of working out what the young carer wants to achieve in all areas of their life, and a plan to help them get there. Where this assessment is done well, young carers may well feel this is a helpful process in and of itself. Having said this, it may be more a helpful practice to phrase conversations, when talking about an assessment, along the lines of “to see what support you and your family might be entitled to”, rather than giving the idea that an assessment will automatically equal support. Carers Trust has written a free and helpful guide “Know your Rights” which young carers and young adult carers may find helpful (so may their parents or social and youth workers explaining the assessment process to young carers and young adult carers).
Identification of young carers is low in Adult Services – how do we improve this?
Asking a simple question during adults’ assessments such as, “Do you have any children?” and “Do you need any support with looking after them?” is an easy first step to increasing the identification of young carers. The Making a step change team would be pleased to hear how local authorities are changing their adult assessment models to take account of this new duty. Email us with your assessment models!
Could you say some more about the requirement to take “reasonable steps” to identify young carers in our area?
There isn’t any more detail in the legislation or regulations about this in the Children and Families Act. Nor is there any case law about any interpretation of this, either. However, it’s not hard to see that taking “reasonable steps” could include local authorities identifying children and families who may be entitled to assessment and support by working with or reaching out to:
- schools (which is why our joint Young Carers in Schools project is so important),
- other children’s services and youth projects,
- community and faith groups,
- charities which support disabled people who are also parents or have other support needs, for example the local branch of Mind or MS Society.
- Health services, for example, in-patient mental health services, local GPs and pharmacists, outpatient clinics.
Email us with other examples of identifying young carers in your area.
Who is responsible for identifying young carers?
The local authority is legally responsible for identifying young carers. We encourage all local authorities to develop a local Memorandum of Understanding to ensure that referral pathways are clear to all staff and work for everyone, no matter which team or department they work in. If you have an example of a referral pathway you would like to share, the Making a step change team would be delighted to hear from you.
How do we support young carers and young adult carers to understand their role as carers and self-identify as such?
Working with local youth services may be a good idea, or faith groups, community groups, careers advisory services, parents of teenager services. A simple awareness raising programme locally for council and education staff, asking a simple question like “does anyone at home rely on you for support?” may be helpful.
Refer to the new guide for young carers and young adult carers by Carers Trust: Know your Rights: Support for Young Carers and Young Adult Carers in England.
Do we need to do different assessments for young carers and young adult carers?
Yes, local authorities do need to do different assessments. There are three kinds of assessments:
- An assessment for young carers under 18, a young carers’ needs assessment, under the Children and Families Act. This is to see what support a young carer under 18 needs now, before they are 18.
- An assessment for young carers under 18, a transition assessment, under the Care Act. This is to see what support a young carer needs after they are 18, and how to help them prepare for adulthood.
- An assessment for carers over 18, a carer’s assessment, under the Care Act. This is to see what support an adult carer needs.
There is no set age for a transition assessment to take place, it needs to be when it will be of “significant benefit” for a young carer. As a guideline, as with an EHC plan (for disabled children), if the planning hasn’t started by the time a young carer is 14, this would be a good time to start. Preparing for adulthood takes time. A young carer’s needs may only start – or a LA may only become aware of them – when they are 16 for example, so a needs assessment under the Children and Families Act, and a transition assessment under the Care Act, could be combined. Have a look at the SCIE resources on transition to see if they help you.
How should assessments be approached when there is no consent?
The following principles should apply to assessments when there are concerns about consent:
- If a young carer under 18 does not want a young carer’s needs assessment, and there are no safeguarding concerns, then they don’t have to have one.
- If a young carer under 18 does not want a transition assessment, they do not have to have one, unless the LA has safeguarding concerns, in which case they may assess.
- If a carer over 18 does not consent to a carer’s assessment, then they do not have to have one.
It would be good to develop ways of working that encourage young carers and young adult carers to feel able to approach the local authority again if their needs change, even if they don’t want an assessment at the moment.
Parental consent is a more difficult issue, and needs sensitive handling, without leaving a young carer without support. Parental consent doesn’t have to be sought, e.g. if a young carer asks for assessment for support for themselves. Of course, safeguarding issues may need to be sensitively explored, in terms of whether or not there is something else going on that the young carer doesn’t want to discuss independently of their parent. Local authorities will have other areas of their work where they’re dealing with similar issues, and draw on similar policies – e.g. what a parent/guardian will or won’t consent to in other areas of young people’s lives. If a parent or guardian does not consent to a young carer having an assessment, then the law doesn’t say what should or shouldn’t happen. There may or may not be safeguarding issues which may need to be explored. Overall, the issue is about sensitively exploring with the young carer, or their family, what support the young carer needs, and how best to provide this, or support to the family. Consent shouldn’t prevent local authorities per se from supporting a young carer to have an assessment for their own needs.
Do you have practice examples of how your local authority is addressing issues of consent? Share them with us!
Is there guidance regarding assessments – what they should include, how they should be structured, how often should they be performed?
Guidance regarding assessments is available in The Care Act and Whole-Family Approaches and Young Carers’ Needs Assessments. These documents aim to provide practical guidance for practitioners in relation to carrying out assessments and developing plans which consider the needs of the whole family.
The review of the assessment should be performed at intervals which would be helpful to the young carer and their family. There may need to be another assessment if the young carer’s needs increase, or if the person needing care and support’s needs increase.
How are young adult carers supported as part of the project and how can we prioritise supporting Young Carers through transition to adult services?
The Making a step change project supports young adult carers indirectly, by supporting local authorities. Carers Trust and The Children’s Society run a range of local projects which support young adult carers too. They would be happy to talk to your LA about how you can work with young adult carers. You may also find Carers Trust Professionals website useful to find out more.
How do we effectively support young carers through transition? e.g. combining assessments in practice; consistent support through transition.
Answer: Make sure you are familiar with what the Care Act requires under chapter 16 of the statutory guidance. Don’t forget to contact the local college or university, and work with them to support the young carer. Use the SCIE resources.
Don’t forget to use the Whole Family Approach, so that you are supporting the whole family to transition, not just the young carer.
A transition assessment is for the young carer, but the person they care for may need another assessment too, to look at their needs as the young carer’s role may change. For example, after their dad has gone to work, a young carer supports their disabled sibling in the mornings before they both go to school together, and again in the evenings when they both get home from the same school, before their father gets home. If the young carer is going to be leaving school and going to sixth form college, both the young carer and the disabled sibling may need more or different support; as well as emotional support to help them both manage the change. Their dad may need another carer’s assessment too. These assessments can be combined if everyone agrees.
Support can be given after the young carer is 18 from children’s services (for example), until adult services are working in a way that the young carer finds helpful, so that there is not a “cliff-edge” at 18.
Starting with advice and information may be a good place to begin, as this will enable you to explore with the young carer what they might want for the future, and how to get there. This will help to prepare the person centred transition plan.
See the resource for universities and services supporting young carers to move into and succeed in higher education by Carers Trust and the new publication by Carers Trust and NIACE: Student Carers in Further Education.
How do we develop young adult carer services in Local Authorities which are traditionally split into children or adult services?
Answer: This can be challenging. There may be practical and historical reasons why services work like this in your area. The Care Act 2014 is clear though that carers of all ages over 18 (and younger carers in transition) are covered by the Care Act, so this may be helpful in bringing young adult services into place and joining up both services.
A working group would be a good place to start involving young adult carers alongside front line workers used to working with young carers and adult carers. Asking young adult carers to think retrospectively about what would have supported them when they were 16, 17 or 18 can be an informative, cost–effective method.
This is where the Memorandum of Understanding may be helpful. This encourages you to work out how you can work together to develop these services, and avoid those silos! Some places are employing specific transition workers, in other areas young carers services are working in partnership with adult carer services along with other partners such as universities.
What are the advantages of joint commissioning for young carers?
For John Bangs from Surrey County Council, one advantage to joint commissioning is that it helps them to have an approach that is whole council and whole system, where there are no wrong doors for young carers and their families. The “Memorandum of Understanding” aids joint working between children and adult social services and ensure that young carers are identified, assessed and their families supported regardless of which service is contacted in the first place.
Joint commissioning also ensures the involvement of other agencies. NHS England has produced a Commitment to Carers document, which helps CCGs to be clear about how they should be implementing commissioning for young carers. They are also producing a Memorandum of Understanding to support the work between social care and health services and extend the whole system approach to supporting young carers and their families beyond just whole council working.
Another advantage of joint commissioning is that it will hopefully lead to better outcomes for young carers and their families because pooling resources allows better value for money for local authorities working through a joined-up approach.
In Liverpool, Jane Weller says that pooling the budget and having the joint commissioning arrangement has allowed them to have a young carers service that runs up to the age of 25. This has multiple advantages but also means that they don’t have transitional assessments at the traditional age of 18, but rather can tailor their transition assessments to when they are most suitable for the young person.
How does joint working happen in reality with multiple budgets?
In Liverpool, adults services, children’s services and the CCG have pooled budgets to commission a young carers service through a joint contract. Whilst the pooled budget receives contributions from all members of the joint commissioning group, the contract is managed and monitored by an agreed designated lead. Jane Weller, Commissioning and Contract Manager, advises joint commissioning groups to be very clear about who is going to be responsible for the monitoring and further development of any service you are commissioning, so that the provider is clear about who the primary contact person is. She says it is important when you’re developing your service specification, that you are clear which outcomes the service provider should be working towards, what reporting is required and how it will be monitored, so that they are only providing one set of information once, rather than duplicating their reporting requirements across the commissioning group. This ensures that providers aren’t spending unnecessary time on completing monitoring reports when that time can be better used delivering services.
How do we get Adults and Children’s Services to work collaboratively?
The document “No wrong doors: working together to support young carers and their families” is a template for a local memorandum of understanding between statutory Directors of Children’s and Adult Social Services. It is a resource to help promote working together between Adult’s and Children’s social care services and enhanced partnership working with health and third sector partners. The updated template offers a framework which professionals can use to provide personalised and joined up support for young carers and their families. The document can be varied to reflect local circumstances and policies.
How can we help schools understand young carers and their pressures, to encourage them to increase identification and support of young carers?
Run jointly, by Carers Trust and The Children’s Society Young Carers in Focus partners, the Young Carers in Schools programme supports local authorities and young carers services to build, maintain and celebrate their local engagement work with schools by:
- Raising the profile of young carers and the importance of young carers support in schools at a national level
- Celebrating and promoting effective partnership working through the Young Carers in Schools Award
- Encouraging effective local partnerships, through the expectation that schools develop and maintain effective links with their local young carers service
- Providing schools with key tools that facilitate effective partnership working i.e. a checklist for effective partnership working with local young carers services and a template Working Together Agreement.
This free initiative enables schools to:
- Get recognition from several leading national charities for effective practice.
- Take manageable steps to increase identification and improve outcomes. The programme breaks down the actions schools can take to increase identification and improve outcomes into manageable steps so that schools can easily prioritise what to do next. These steps have been developed with teachers and school staff who understand the everyday pressures on schools to meet a wide range of demands.
- Access additional support, complimenting locally developed resources, and including tools, templates and good practice examples, designed to make increasing identification and improving outcomes as easy as possible
- Demonstrate to Ofsted that the school is meeting the needs of young carers. In the Common Inspection Framework for Education, Skills and Early Years, introduced by Ofsted in September 2015, young carers are specifically mentioned as a pupil group that inspectors will pay particular attention to when making outcomes. A Young Carers in Schools Award is a great way to demonstrate your school is taking a systematic approach to identifying and supporting young carers to raise outcomes. Inspectors noted that “Young carers…are effectively supported to ensure that they are able to attend school regularly and achieve well” in the March 2015 inspection report for the Young Carers in Schools Gold Award winning school, Stockport Academy.
We are preparing a range of tools that local authorities and young carers services can use to raise awareness of the Young Carers in Schools programme, and the opportunity it provides for schools to gain an Award for effective practice including:
- Exemplar text for newsletters, websites and intranets
- Template letter to send to governing bodies/schools
- PPT presentation
These resources will be shared in the next MASC e-bulletin.
How do we meet the needs of young carers and the new duties in legislation within a challenging financial climate, with less staff and more work on wider remit?
Of course this is a challenge within the current environment. However, one fundamental approach is presenting the case for early, preventative support for young carers and their families. There is lots of evidence of negative outcomes for young carers if they are not supported. There is therefore a need for strong local measurement of impact of local support. We will be running a webinar on outcomes tools in February so keep your eye out for that on our website. Secondly, meeting the needs of young carers can be and should be through a whole family approach and through range of services – such as adult social care, young carers services, schools colleges and universities as well as generic youth provision and health services. By ‘spreading the load’, and through strong strategic joint commissioning and pooling of budgets, young carers and their families can receive the best possible support.
Disclaimer: The above answers do not constitute legal advice. Please seek further advice from your solicitors regarding any matters referring to legislation.