Young people who provide unpaid care for a relative with chronic illness or disability are a growing focus of public policy and research in Australia and internationally. Support services for these young carers have emerged, but not enough is known about their effectiveness. This article develops an analytical framework that categorizes young carer support services according to their goals and the types of intervention provided. The analytical framework is based on Australian data. It is applied to young carer support services available in Australia but may be applicable to other countries. The aim of the framework is to provide a structure for assessing the effectiveness of current services in supporting young carers by clarifying service goals and identifying gaps in existing service provision. The framework contributes to conceptual discussions about young carer supports, and it can be used to guide future policy development.
The article draws on Australian and international literature as well as findings from a recent Australian study on young carers. The proposed framework groups young carer support services according to three overarching goals: assisting young people who provide care; mitigating the care-giving responsibility; and preventing the entrenchment of a young person's caring role. The framework is applied to an audit of Australian support services for young carers, illustrating how it can be used to assess existing supports for young carers and inform future policy development. The findings suggest that most services in Australia fall into the categories of assistance and mitigation, while few contain preventative elements.