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Agenda Item No. 9

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 14th July, 2014

 

Report of the Director of Social Services

 

Update on Young Carer Services

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To update Scrutiny Committee on support services for young carers.

Recommendation

That the Scrutiny Committee notes the work undertaken to support young carers in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Reason for the Recommendation

To ensure that Members continue to exercise effective oversight of this important function undertaken by the Social Services Directorate.

 

Background

2.         Young Carers are defined as children and young people under the age of 18 who have caring responsibilities for someone who has a physical or mental illness, a physical or learning disability, or a drug or alcohol problem.  The person they look after may be a parent, a brother or sister, a grandparent or other relative.  They may provide practical or physical care, help with personal care, assistance with domestic tasks and/or emotional support.

3.         Regardless of their age, all carers have the right to an assessment of their needs as a carer.  There is no specific legislation which refers to 'young carers' as a specific category, although each local authority has a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their area who are in need and to promote the upbringing of such children, wherever possible by their families, through providing an appropriate range of services.

4.         Where a child is providing a substantial amount of care on a regular basis for a parent, they will be entitled to an assessment of their ability to care and the local authority must take that assessment into account when deciding what community care services should be made available to the parent.

5.         The Vale of Glamorgan commissions externally a Young Carers Project delivered through Action for Children.  This service provides opportunities for young carers to participate in social activities, events and short breaks outside the school and home environment.  This service is jointly funded by the Children and Young People's Partnership (via the Families First Funding) and by Social Services.

6.         A report to this Scrutiny Committee in January 2014 described joint working between the Cardiff and Vale UHB and the two local authorities (the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff) to meet the new responsibilities introduced by the Carers Strategies (Wales) Measure, especially in respect of improving information to/engagement with carers. Better support for young carers has been a key objective for this joint working.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         In November 2012, the Children and Young People Partnership commissioned Action for Children to carry out a scoping exercise that would help to identify the potential number of young carers in primary and secondary schools in the Vale of Glamorgan.  The exercise involved on-line questionnaires and group talks in schools and a focus group of 13 known young carers.  Information gathered from the exercise was intended to help focus future service development to support young carers.

8.         33 schools in the Vale of Glamorgan were approached regarding the young carer’s survey and 18 schools participated.  More than 2,000 children were surveyed: 179 of them believed that they were a young carer and another 214 were unsure if they were a young carer.  Hence, 10% of young people indicated that they had some caring responsibility, although only 8.3% considered themselves to be young carers. These percentages are in line with similar research elsewhere.  Extrapolating from these figures suggests that the Vale of Glamorgan has as many as 1800 young carers.  The report outlining the survey findings is attached at Appendix A.  Attached at Appendix B is case studies of services provided to young carers to support them in their role.

9.         To take forward recommendations from the scoping exercise and to make progress with the requirements of the Carers Measure, a Young Carers Group was formed in January 2013.  It included representatives from health and social services, the Children and Young People's Partnership, the Learning and Skills Directorate, a Deputy Head Teacher and young carer service providers from the Third Sector.

10.      As part of the group's objectives it was agreed that a new service/project should be commissioned for Young Carers, building on the existing service and introducing more individual case work to support young carers improve their educational attendance and attainment. Work on a procurement exercise has started.

11.      Additionally, a Cardiff and Vale task and finish group has been established to develop resources and materials that will support educational performance and raise awareness of young carers' needs.  An e-learning module is in the final stages of production; it will help professionals to understand the issues affecting young carers and to identify those with whom they come into contact.  Young people will be involved in workshops to produce posters and leaflets.  These will be used primarily in schools and to inform parents, partly to remove some of the embarrassment and stigma still attached to identification as a young carer and to provide reassurance that there is support available.  The workshops will also explore further the information needs of young carers.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

12.      This is a joint funded project between Families First and Social Services.  Families First will contribute £30,000 per year until March 2017 and £10,000 is being made available from the carers services budget in Social Services.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

13.      All Families First projects are rigorously monitored and evaluated so that opportunities to build upon and sustain the initiatives can be identified.

14.      Families First services depend upon continued Welsh Government funding.  Externally contracted Families First projects are required to have their own exit strategies, involving reduction in scale or the cessation of individual project/s should funding diminish or end.  In the longer term, it is envisaged by Welsh Government that consideration will be given to mainstreaming successful elements.   

15.      There are no climate change implications as a direct result of this Report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

16.      The Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 and the Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 apply to all carers irrespective of their age.  In addition to their rights to a carer's assessment, young carers may also be entitled to services in their own right.

17.      Young carers may also be entitled to services in their own right under the Children Act 1989, which includes the general `duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children'.

18.      This overlapping obligation means that both Adult and Children's Services should work together to sustain families and ensure support to avoid children being required to undertake inappropriate caring roles.

19.      Contracts/service level agreements are in place with providers delivering Families First services which set out clear roles, responsibilities and targets for the delivery of activities.

Crime and Disorder Implications

20.      There are no direct crime and disorder implications as the result of developing these services, although their preventative nature is likely to have a positive impact on children, young people and families. 

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

21.      The Carers (Equal Opportunities) Act 2004 provides for cooperation between statutory agencies in the provision of support for carers.

22.      The Equality Act 2010 protects carers of disabled people 'by association': i.e. if they experience discrimination because of their links to a disabled person.  The Council recognises this and it is satisfied that no specific equal opportunities issues arise as a consequence of this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

23.      The work outlined in this report addresses the following corporate objectives: 'to ensure children and young people are not disadvantaged by poverty' and to 'coordinate, preventative and early intervention services for families in the greatest need including Flying Start, Families First and Intensive Family Support Services'.

Policy Framework

24.      Families First is a Welsh Government funding initiative supported through the Children and Families (Wales) Measure.  

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

25.      The Children and Young Peoples Partnership Board allocates the Families First grant in line with the priorities of the Community Strategy and Welsh Government grant criteria.  The Board comprises officers and representatives from a range of public bodies and the voluntary sector. 

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

26.      Social Care and Health.

Background Papers

None

 

Contact Officer

Carys Lord, Head of Business Management and Innovation

 

Officers Consulted

Head of Children and Young People Services

Children and Young People Partnership

Children and Young People Partnership Manager

 

Responsible Officer

Philip Evans, Director of Social Services

 

 

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