Young Carers

Topics: Sociology, Social work, Caregiver Pages: 10 (3738 words) Published: May 1, 2010
Contemporary Issues
Young Carers and the psychosocial impact on their well-being: and the wider social impact of the role of young carers. To explore the complexities of young carers a definition must be offered. However, endeavours to find a clear definition of the term ‘Young Carer’ is difficult, due to the complexity and diversity surrounding the function. An encompassing definition of a young carer is ‘_ children and young persons under 18 who provide, or intend_ _ to provide, care, assistance or support to another family member_ They _carry out, often on a regular basis significant or substantial _ _caring tasks and assumes a level of responsibility, which would _ usually be associated with an_ adult'._ (Becker, 2000 cited in Aldridge & Becker, 2003, p. xiii) Cree (2003) suggests that, if defining a young carer is complicated, then it is similarly, complicated to make statements about children’s general well-being and social standing. The National Statistics Office (NSO) census of 2001, for the first time gathered information about the provision of unpaid care givers. Just over 1% of children aged between 5 and 15 years provided unpaid care, this equates to 114,000 children. 9,000 children which represent 8% of young carers were identified as providing care for 50 hours or more a week. Aldridge (2007) indicates this figure rises to 175,000 when all children aged 18 and below are identified. Frank (2002) however, stressed for reasons to be discussed further in this essay, that the number of young carers may be much greater. The average age of a young carer is 12 years old, 54% of carers live in lone parent families and 12% of carers, care for more than one person with 25% receiving no other professional support except for that from young carer’s projects (Deaden & Becker 2004). The projects such as The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, The Children’s Society and Carers UK are generally funded through Local Authorities. The following essay will explore the psychosocial impacts faced by young carers in their everyday role. The essay will explore why young carers are deemed important in the social care role and some of the policies, laws and procedures that govern these young carers will be explored. It will also address the failure of society in implementing these laws, policies and procedures. The concept of children carrying out the role of caring within the family is not a new one. Heron, (2000) & (DeMause 1976 cited in Aldridge 2007) suggest that children taking on the role of caring has happen for centuries. Aldridge and Becker (1993) emphasize that in the past this had been due to large families and low life expectancy. However, what has changed is that since the late 1980’s, through research and campaigning, the issues of young carers have become formally recognised into the social and political domain. There are many spokespersons who act as the voice for young carers and campaign on behalf of their well-being. Campaigners recognised that children who take on the responsibility of caring, require acknowledgement and support. (Arber and Ginn, 1990 cited in Nolan et al. 1996) and slowly this has become a domain of governments to provide this acknowledgement and support. Being a young carer can have a deep impact on these children’s’ normative development. ‘There can be adverse effects on their development physically, emotionally, educationally and socially’ (Meradith, 1992 cited in Aldridge & Becker, 2003, p. 15) The impact of young carers are wide ranging and can be plentiful and consist of such difficulties as, limited access to social networks, poor attendance at school, resulting in a lack of education, psychological and emotional problems often arise due to their caring roles. Those caring for people with mental illness within the family and those who care for substance-abuse parents are particularly vulnerable to these problems (Dearden et al, 2000, Dearden Becker, 2004, Thomas...
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