Members will receive a presentation about the number of young carers in Bracknell Forest and service provision available.
In response to a request from the Chairman members received a presentation on the number of young carers in the Borough and the support and service provision available to them. Sarah Gee, Assistant Director: Early Help and Communities explained young carers cared for adults or helped care for siblings with physical as well as mental health issues.
The following information was shared with members:
o Members were informed there were 184 young carers in the Borough as January-March 2019. 122 were over the age of 14. 99 were female, 80 male and 5 had not disclosed their gender.
o From April-June 2019 another five young carers had been identified to date. The number of newly identified young carers January to March 2019 was 17.
o A barrier to parents/carers being identified and receiving support may be fears of having services involved (e.g. social services.)
o Nationally, young carers had significantly lower attainment in education, the equivalent to nine grades lower than their peers.
o National figures also showed one in every twelve teenagers were likely to have some sort of caring role.
o There were likely to be two young carers in every classroom.
o The local authority has a duty to offer an assessment on the appearance of need, the person being cared for does not need to be receiving services for this to apply.
o The Council was working towards a more holistic whole family approach via the People’s Directorate.
o Jenny Plumb, Targeted Youth Work Assistant - Young Carers had seen an increase in referrals from adult and children services in recent months due to raising awareness across the Council about Young Carers.
o The priority was to safeguard children and young people by ensuring they were not providing inappropriate amounts/types of care – financial/personal care, etc.
o Each response was different - may signpost to specialist services such as SIGNAL –advice to young adult carers, ELEVATE – who support young people who are at risk of not being in employment, education or training and aged 14 plus. MENCAP – siblings group. They may also refer to a youth worker for one to one support or a universal youth group.
o Consultation with children and young people had identified they wanted to access the same groups as their peers rather than have specific ones set up for them. The council has a duty to ensure Young Carers have the same opportunities as their peers.
o The Nationally recognised Memorandum of Understanding is an agreement between adult and children services, to work together in identifying and supporting young carer. We also have a multi-agency strategy group that includes internal and external partners, their role is to champion young carers’ needs and bring to fruition the action plan.
o The action plan was currently being refreshed as was the handbook for staff to help them identify young carers.
o Schools were considered key to identifying and supporting young carers. BFCs ambition was to support all of Bracknell’s senior schools to achieve the young carers’ award. Schools could achieve bronze, silver or gold. Currently, only Easthampstead Park Community School had achieved an award. The Council hoped that more schools would work towards the award and that schools would develop lunchtime support groups for young carers.
o BFC were also working with primary schools to improve identification of young carers.
A discussion took place and the following questions and points were raised:
o Members asked if poor attendance was used to identify young carers and the strategy for identification of hidden carers. Jenny Plumb, Targeted Youth Work Assistant - Young Carers said there was a need to raise awareness amongst teachers/governors/heads. The young carers’ award was one way of raising their profile. Attending meetings such as this was one way of raising the profile of young carers with members and officers so she was pleased to see it on the agenda. There was also scope with the new People Directorate to improve services across the board and with partner organisations such as health.
o Members were keen this issue should have a much higher profile and recognised more young carers had been identified through the work at Easthampstead Park Community School. However, lunchtime catch up sessions to improve educational outcomes had not been as successful as informal knitting classes which allowed young carers to chat and discuss their issues informally.
o Clarification was sought on why there were 17 new young carers identified and 16 had left the service. Jenny Plumb explained there were various reasons including young carers turning 18; moving out of area or no longer caring.
o Members queried what non-disclosed meant and were informed the young care had declined to provide information on their gender.
o There was a spike in identification when a particular piece of promotional work happened.
o Over the past five years figures remained at between 170-200 young carers. Young adult carers were not included in these figures. Members challenged if this was felt to be good enough and were informed there was a lot of work being done to ensure support for young carers but they wanted to increase identification.
The Chairman thanked the presenters for their
passion on this issue and for attending.
Subsequently to the meeting the figures in the presentation for April to June were corrected as follows:
April – June Count 189 (F98+F80 = 178) – Should read F 98 M 91