Caring Together, Norfolk County Council and Young Carers Matter Norfolk, with the support of organisations across the county have set a challenge to make sure every young carer in Norfolk has someone they can talk to in school and knows what support is available to help them.
Many children and young people play a vital but demanding role in helping to look after a family member because of an illness, disability or addiction. Too often their role is not known, and this means the impact of their caring role is not understood and they do not have the essential support they need.
From spring 2023, for the first-time, young carers are going to be included on the national school census return.
This will provide a better picture of the number of young carers in schools, help the impact of being a young carer to be understood, and potentially increase the support on offer to young carers.
To help ensure that every young carer in the county is identified at the earliest opportunity and linked into available support we at Caring Together, Norfolk County Council and Young Carers Matter Norfolk and others have set a challenge. By the end of the 2022-23 academic year, they want every Norfolk school to:
- Have a Young Carers Champion so every young carer has a trusted adult in school they can go to if things are difficult, or they need more support.
- Have a young carers agreement / policy so that every young carer knows what support is available to them in their school and locally.
- Ensure young carers are correctly identified in their school pupil management systems and monitor indicators such as attendance and attainment using the young carer flag.
Miriam Martin, chief executive of Caring Together said, “Being a young carer can be hugely demanding. Too many children and young people are carers without their school or others knowing. Our own survey earlier this year found that young carers were caring for an average of three years before being supported, some as long as ten.
“It is vital that young carers are identified at the earliest opportunity and that every young carer can get the support they need when they need it.
“This is why we are calling for schools to act to identify young carers and ensure they have support in place.”
Sara Tough, Executive Director of Children’s Services at Norfolk County Council, said, ” From speaking with young carers regularly over a number of years, we know that many young carers are not identified until they hit crisis point.
“This means they often miss out on crucial support that is available to them and their families, and risks significantly impacting their own health and wellbeing as well as their education.
“We believe that by having these things in place in every school, we can help ensure that all of our county’s young carers get the best possible start in life and receive the support they and their families need when they need it.
“I hope we can count on the support of schools across the county as we work to ensure that every young carer in Norfolk has the opportunity to flourish.”
We have support and resources available to help schools with identifying young carers in the school census and joining the Young Carers Challenge. There are also resources for parents and young carers who want to encourage their schools to get involved.
To find out more about our resources and how the challenge works in Norfolk, and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, please visit caringtogether.org/youngcarerchallenge