A landmark change in the law, announced by the government today (8 October 2013) signals the start of a new era of support for 160,000 children in England caring for their parents, siblings and family members.

For too long, young carers have been slipping through the net between children’s and adult’s support services – hidden from view of the very authorities there to help them.

What does this mean for young carers?

So we are absolutely delighted that today, the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove MP, has announced this historic amendment to The Children and Families Bill.

Now, when a child is identified as a young carer, the needs of everyone in the family will be considered.  This will trigger both children’s and adults support services into action – 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.

A staggering 166,363 children in England are caring for their parents, siblings and family members according to Census data released in May 2013. This is up by a fifth from when the last Census was conducted in 2001.

Despite this being the first official statistic to be published in ten years, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Many young carers remain hidden from the view of authorities. The Children’s Society’s analysis, Hidden from View, reveals that young carers are lagging behind in school and missing out on their childhoods because of the demands placed on them.

Delight at potential transformation of lives
Dr Moira Fraser, Chair of the NYCC and Director of Policy and Research at Carers Trust, said: “The National Young Carers Coalition (NYCC), has been campaigning for over a year for the government to change the law for young carers so that they have stronger rights to assessment and support and protection from inappropriate caring through assessment and support of the whole family.

“We are delighted that the Secretary of State has put forward this proposed amendment and indicated that the Care Bill will also protect young carers. Not only will these changes help professionals to understand what they need to do, they have potential to transform the lives of some our most vulnerable children and young people by helping them and their family when they most need it.”