The Regulations that currently relate to young carers are contained within the Young Carers (Needs Assessments) Regulations 2015 and came into force on 1st April 2015.
Under the Children and Families Act 2014 the definition of young carer is a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person. The concept of care includes practical or emotional support, and 'another person' means anyone within the same family, be they adult or child.
This definition allows more children than under previous legislation to qualify as young carers and be entitled to a needs assessment.
This definition still excludes children providing care as part of contracted work or as voluntary work.
The Local Authority is expected to take 'reasonable steps' to identify which children in their area are young carers, and if they have the need for support. The Local Authority must carry out an assessment if it appears that the young carer has the need for support. This assessment is called a Young Carer's Needs Assessment.
The local authority must carry out a young carer's needs assessment in a manner which is appropriate and proportionate to the needs and circumstances of the young carer to whom it relates.
Whoever carries out the assessment must be:
- Appropriately trained;
- Have sufficient knowledge and skill to be able to carry out the assessment; and
- An appropriate person to carry out the assessment having regard to the young carer's circumstances, in particular the young carer's age, sex and understanding.
In carrying out the assessment, the local authority must, in particular, have regard to:
- The young carer's age, understanding and family circumstances;
- The wishes, feelings and preferences of the young carer;
- Any differences of opinion between the young carer, the young carer's parents and the person cared for, with respect to the care which the young carer provides (or intends to provide); and
- The outcomes the young carer seeks from the assessment.
In order to ensure full and meaningful participation in the assessment process, the following people must be provided with information about the manner and form of the assessment prior to the start of the assessment, and in a format which is accessible to the young carer:
- The young carer;
- The person cared for;
- The young carer's parents; and
- Any other person whom the young carer or a parent of the young carer requests should participate in the assessment.
Overall, the Young Carer's Needs Assessment must consider the impact of the needs of the young carer's family on the well-being of the young carer and any child in that family and, in particular, on their education and personal and emotional development.
Specifically it must determine the following:
- The amount, nature and type of care which the young carer provides (or intends to provide);
- The extent to which this care is (or will be) relied upon by the family, including the wider family, to maintain the well-being of the person cared for;
- Whether the care which the young carer provides (or intends to provide) impacts on the young carer's well-being, education and development;
- Whether any of the tasks which the young carer is performing (or intends to perform) when providing care are excessive or inappropriate for the young carer to perform having regard to all the circumstances, and in particular the carer's age, sex, wishes and feelings;
- Whether any of the young carer's needs for support could be prevented by providing services to:
- The person cared for, or
- Another member of the young carer's family;
- What the young carer's needs for support would be likely to be if the carer were relieved of part or all of the tasks the young carer performs (or intends to perform) when providing care;
- Whether any other assessment of the needs for support of the young carer or the person cared for has been carried out (and if it has, to take this into account);
- Whether the young carer is a child in need;
- Any actions to be taken as a result of the assessment; and
- The arrangements for a future review.
The assessment must identify the young carer's friends and family, and consider how those persons can contribute to meeting the outcomes which the young carer seeks from the assessment.
The local authority must consult with persons with expertise and knowledge in relation to the young carer as part of the assessment process.
The regulations allow for a young carer's needs assessment to be combined with any other assessment of the needs for support of the young carer, the person cared for, or a member of the young carer's family. They also allow account to be taken of any other assessment which has been carried out in relation to the needs for support of the young carer or the person who is cared for and which the authority consider to be relevant.
The young carer and their parents must be given a written record of the assessment. A written record should also be sent to anyone else at the request of the young carer or their parent, for example a young carer service.
An assessment can be refused if:
- The young carer does not appear to have needs for support;
- The local authority has already carried out an assessment of the young carer's need for support connected with their care for a particular person and circumstances have not changed.
Where a Young Carer appears to be at risk of Significant Harm, then the appropriate safeguarding procedures must be followed immediately.