Young carers are young people who help care for a family member who is disabled, physically or mentally ill, has a long term serious illness or has a substance misuse problem. This is a role that many young people are happy and proud to do. However, inappropriate or excessive levels of caring can put their education, training or health at risk, and may prevent them from enjoying their childhood.
A young carer is a child or young person under 18 and a young adult carer is aged 18 - 25.
Some young carers may be susceptible to poor outcomes because they frequently miss out on normal childhood experiences and lack the social networks experienced by their friends without caring roles.
Evidence shows that 30% of Young Carers experience problems at school with attendance, attainment and social development, rising to 40% where they care within a family affected by substance misuse. In addition, there may be physical problems such as excessive tiredness or injury from lifting and assisting others, and emotional and mental health problems such as stress, anxiety, depression and a sense of isolation.
Young adult carers often do not have the same opportunities as other young people to continue their education, go to university, and go to work.
Often there will be more than one young carer in the family and the caring role is likely to extend beyond looking after the cared for person and may include taking siblings to school and looking after their social and emotional, as well as practical needs.