Background: This article presents an analysis of policies on young carers in England, considering both the design but also the lived experience of policy subjects. Method: Drawing on affect theory we can increase understanding of the reach of these policies into family life and the nature of English policy‐making focussed on this group. This analytic framework presents the opportunity to draw on the use of affect theory developed in other disciplines but less so in the discipline of social policy. Findings: The article argues, firstly, that normative messages through policy design are conveyed to families through affects. Secondly, it argues that hierarchies of subject positions established within policy design are reaching and impacting on young carers and their families through affective pressures. Conclusion: This article demonstrates that affect theory contributes to the analysis of social policies on young carers and also illuminates the impacts of policies in the context of limited formal implementation.