Agenda Item No. 4
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING): 22ND SEPTEMBER 2014
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (SOCIAL CARE AND HEALTH): 14 JULY 2014
'208 UPDATE ON YOUNG CARER SERVICES (DSS) –
The Head of Business Management and Innovation presented the report, the purpose of which was to update the Committee on the support services offered to young carers.
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.
Regardless of their age, all carers have the right to an assessment of their needs as a carer. There was 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.
Where a child was providing a substantial amount of care on a regular basis for a parent, they would 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.
The Vale of Glamorgan commissions externally a Young Carers Project delivered through Action for Children. This service provided opportunities for young carers to participate in social activities, events and short breaks outside the school and home environment. This service was jointly funded by the Children and Young People's Partnership (via the Families First Funding) and by Social Services.
A report to the 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.
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 online 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.
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 were in line with similar research elsewhere. Extrapolating from these figures suggested that the Vale of Glamorgan had as many as 1,800 young carers. Training for teachers was now being offered in order to help them identify particular signs of children or young people that could be carers. The report outlining the survey findings was attached at Appendix A to the report. Attached at Appendix B were case studies of services provided to young carers to support them in their role.
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 Headteacher and young carer service providers from the Third Sector.
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 had started.
Additionally, a Cardiff and Vale Task and Finish Group had been established to develop resources and materials that would support educational performance and raise awareness of young carers' needs. An e-learning module was in the final stages of production; it would help professionals to understand the issues affecting young carers and to identify those with whom they come into contact. Young people would be involved in workshops to produce posters and leaflets. These would 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 was support available. The workshops would also explore further the information needs of young carers.
The Chairman sought reassurance that the Council was doing everything to reach as many young carers as possible. In response the Head of Business Management and Information informed Members that the service was continually reviewed and that the establishment of a Young Carers Group had been important to properly understand the issues facing young carers and to gauge the level of support that they require.
In response to a query regarding the Council’s provision of young carer cards, offering discounts and commercial offers, the Head of Business Management and Information stated that this was not something that the service currently provided but that it was an idea that should be looked into and considered, this being an innovative way to identify and engage with young carers.
A Committee Member queried how often would the scoping exercise be carried out and why were some schools reluctant to become involved. In reply the Head of Business Management and Information advised Members that this was not part of a rolling programme and that she did not know why certain schools chose not to participate. She advised that it would be important to go back to the schools and to properly explain the background behind the exercise and also the importance of partaking in the survey. Further to this point, a Committee Member queried if the report could be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) in order to pursue the issue of lack of engagement with some schools.
A Member commented that there was a need for a broad range of services and enquired as to how did the Vale of Glamorgan compare to other parts of Wales. In response, Members were advised that on the basis of population size the Vale of Glamorgan compared reasonably well and that this was based on robust data.
Having considered the above, the Committee
(1) T H A T the Scrutiny Committee receive an update report on an annual basis.
(2) T H A T the report be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for consideration.
(3) T H A T the Directorate investigate the possibility of introducing a Young Carer Card offering benefits such as discounts to young carers.
Reasons for recommendations
(1) To ensure that Members continue to exercise effective oversight of this important function undertaken by the Social Services Directorate.
(2) That Members of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) are aware of the work undertaken within schools to engage with young carers and to note the issue of lack of engagement from some schools in participating in the young carers scoping exercise.
(3) To increase the number of young carers identified and to raise the level of engagement, noting the stigma experienced by many children and young people that undertake the role as a carer for a relative.'
Attached as Appendix – Report to Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 14 July 2014