There are 166,363 young carers in England, according to latest census data released on 16 May 2013. The Children’s Society believes this could be just the tip of the iceberg. Many young carers remain hidden from official sight for a host of reasons, including family loyalty, stigma, bullying, not knowing where to go for support. Some young carers are as young as five years old.
This report provides a valuable insight into the daily lives and outcomes for young carers, by using data from the Longitudinal Survey of Young People in England (LSYPE) publically for the first time. We know from our decades of experience of working with young carers across England, that caring can cost young people dearly if they are not given the opportunities to participate in all aspects of life. They can miss out on a huge range of opportunities that so many other children and young people take for granted, from educational opportunities, to spending time with friends and having time and space to do their homework.
It also reveals how young carers are gaining fewer qualifications and are therefore less likely to earn a decent living. We are calling for support for these children, to make sure that they have the same opportunities as other children. We hope to bring about change by influencing policy makers to help prevent these children and young people from caring in the first place.
Many young carers come from hidden and marginalised groups, including children caring for family members with mental illness or a substance dependency. This group of young carers was not captured in the latest census.
Children must be allowed to thrive and enjoy their childhoods, not be relied upon to take caring roles that are too often inappropriate. One young carer remaining under the radar, out of sight of the very authorities there to support them, is one too many.