Agenda item

Young Carers Support Service

To review the Young Carers Support Service (YCSS) for Herefordshire against the specification for the service following its implementation in April 2018.



The committee received a report from the director for children and families relating to the young carers support service (YCSS). The early help manager introduced the report and advised the committee of the statutory duty of the council to young carers and the specification for the service which had emerged through the Joint Carers Strategy 2017-2021. The four objectives of the YCSS were outlined, in particular the promotional work that was ongoing around the service including digital material and presentations at schools and the GP forum. The service operated by undertaking an early help assessment of the family of a young carer from which a package of support could be compiled. Young carers were encouraged to complete evaluations of their experiences at the end of the intervention. 


The committee made the points below in the discussion that followed:


·         It was estimated that there were between 400 -700 carers in Herefordshire and the number the service had been in contact with was 83. The proportion of carers that the service supported was felt to be low but it was acknowledged that some young carers did not require or want support. There was concern if families did not want a young carer, who required support, to have contact with the service and it was queried how this could be overcome. The EHM explained that it was not an easy barrier to overcome but promotional materials such as the youtube video that had been developed was important in demonstrating the support that the service could provide. The priority for the service was to ensure that those with need were getting the help that they required. Presentations to the GPs Forum had been provided to ensure young carers and their families could be signposted to the service and notions that the service sought to take children into care could be dispelled.

·         It was queried whether children that have been supported had been consulted on how to engage other young carers. For older children a closed group on a social media platform was proposed and it was suggested that the social media details should be included on the services promotional posters. Details of where the poster had been distributed were sought. The EHM confirmed that a question regarding effective engagement with young carers could be added to the evaluation that was completed following intervention. The early help family support team manager (EHFSTM) explained that a number of children that the service works with do not initially identify as young carers and work that was undertaken in primary schools was effective in raising awareness. The poster was distributed to all schools and GP surgeries and adding social media details to the poster would be looked into.    

·         The committee queried the definition of a young carer. It was clarified that young carers were not only carers for parents but could also care for siblings. The EHFSTM explained that a question, about jobs in the home, posed of children to determine if they were a young carer was: “if you didn’t do it, would it get done?” It was confirmed that the service also provided support to families where siblings provided care.

·         The committee asked what opportunities existed for young carers to interact and engage with one another. The EHM confirmed that there were young carer groups, some of which were delivered by the Herefordshire Young Carer Clubs. The council also funded tender exercise to identify providers for young carers groups in different locations; the CarersTrust4All had been awarded a contract and were in the process of establishing carers groups.      

·         The committee asked what the advantages had been of bringing the service back ‘in house’ with the council acting as the provider. The EHM confirmed that one of the reasons for bringing the service back ‘in-house’ was because statutory guidance stated that a holistic family assessment should be provided and following a consultation with young carers it was ascertained that such a comprehensive approach was not being achieved under previous arrangements. With effective co-ordination of support greater free time was enabled for young carers. The EHFSTM explained that young carers were told about the groups that were available and activities they could undertake. Some young carers wanted to engage with carer groups but others wanted to explore other interests relevant to their age. 

·         The committee queried if the provision of a greater level of early help services had identified more young carers who required support. The role played by Addaction was also raised. The EHM confirmed that was the experience of the service and often there were other issues identified through school such as behavioural problems or lateness which suggested there were family issues which could involve young people acting as carers. It was confirmed that there was some challenge working with Addaction and receiving referrals but where there was a safeguarding concern this was reported through the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

·         It was queried if the service received feedback from former young carers about their experiences and the support provided. The EHFSTM explained that former carers could contact the service at any point and if young carers became adult carers they were referred to the adult carer group. The EHM explained that the service had been in operation for two years and methods for gathering feedback from former young carers was something that could be investigated in future. The survey conducted by the children and young people’s partnership scheduled for summer 2020 would include questions to ask young people if they were carers which would help the service develop a more accurate picture of numbers in the county. It was hoped that a link to webpages for young carers could be provided on the survey, alongside the question above, to provide instant access to information for those young people who identified as carers. 

·         The service period on the young carers service summary specification was raised, in particular the end date of 31 March 2020. The budget that was planned for the new financial year was queries and the grant funding of £20,000 awarded in May 2019 was raised and if this would be reviewed in May 2020. The DCF confirmed that the service would operate beyond the date in the specification and the budget remained fixed for the forthcoming year. The EHM explained that there was a contingency to address an increase in the numbers of young carers if this occurred following the children and young people partnership survey. It was confirmed that the grant funding would be reviewed.


The Cabinet Member for Children and Families explained that there was a fine judgement required by those working in this area where there was the potential for exploitation of young carers and where young carers could be involved in care for siblings. The EHM explained that the service retained a safeguarding obligation and would involve social care where required.      


The Chairperson explained that there had been an intention to hear from young carers at the meeting but this had not been possible due to concerns over the sensitivity of the information they would share in the public domain. It was proposed that an engagement session in private was arranged for members of the committee with an interest in talking to young carers ahead of the next committee meeting.


RESOLVED: That a session is arranged with young carers to discuss their experiences of being a young carer and provide feedback on the support they receive.

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