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Young carers support to be examined by Surrey County Council following Lib Dem calls

May 8, 2014 3:47 PM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Young carer helping her motherSurrey County Council is to look at what support can be given to young carers following a motion by Lib Dem councillor Will Forster.

Speaking at this week's meeting of the County Council, Cllr Will Forster said "We must ensure Young Carers receive support to enable them reach their full potential in life.

"Young Carers support family members where either no support is available or instead of formal social service support. This all frees up our services and costs the taxpayer less.

"Young Carers do an invaluable job, but that work has its consequences. According to a recent analysis:

• 27% of Young Carers of secondary school age experience educational difficulties or miss school;

• Where they are caring for someone who misuses drugs or alcohol, 40% have educational difficulties;

• Young Carers between 16 and 18 are twice as likely to be Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET);

• 68% of Young Carers experience bullying at school and 39% said that nobody in their school was aware of their caring role;

• Young Carers have significantly lower attainment at GCSE level than their peers, equivalent to nine grades lower overall;

• Young Carers are four times more likely to live in households where no adult is in work.

"Changing the eligibility of pupil premium so extra support can be given to Young Carers fits the bill. We know education is the silver bullet and the best way for people to improve their lives.

"Let's give young Carers the best possible start in life. Let Surrey lead the way and get all young Carers in pupil premium both locally and nationally."

The administration at County Hall agreed that the County Council should take a serious look at the issue and referred it to both the Adult Social Care and Children & Families Select Committees for reports.

ENDS

Motion from Will Forster to SCC:

Council notes:

  • Young Carers are children and young people in Surrey's schools and colleges who provide regular and on-going care to a family member who is physically or mentally ill, disabled or misuses substances;
  • the tasks and level of caring undertaken by Surrey's Young Carers can vary according to the nature of the illness or disability, the level and frequency of care needed and the structure of the family as a whole;

Council further notes that:

  • the support Surrey County Council currently offers is through school staff and governors;
  • many schools have a designated member of staff for Young Carers;
  • many governing bodies now include the performance and well-being of Young Carers as an agenda item at their meetings, which should be considered "best practice".
  • the Pupil Premium is an additional allowance to support certain groups of children and young people at risk of not achieving their potential;
  • children entitled to free school meals are eligible for Pupil Premium of £1,300 a year for primary pupils and £935 a year for secondary pupils;
  • whilst eligibility for free school meals is the main criteria for entitlement to Pupil Premium, other groups are also entitled to Pupil Premium including children in care, adopted children, children in hospital schools and service personnel children;
  • including Young Carers within Pupil Premium eligibility would enable schools and colleges to provide additional support to these young people.

Given the challenges faced by Young Carers, Council resolves:

  • to ask Surrey County Council's Chief Executive to write to the Secretary of State for Education, the Minister of State for Schools, and the national Pupil Premium Champion, noting the content of this motion and asking that consideration be given to widen the eligibility for Pupil Premium to include Young Carers;
  • to ask the Chief Executive to write to the Chair of the Local Government Association, asking his organisation to support this campaign;
  • to ask the Strategic Director, Children, Schools and Families to write to the Headteachers of all schools in Surrey, asking them to lend their support to this request and to consider how best to support Young Carers, including identifying a designated member of staff and regularly monitoring the performance and well-being of Young Carers through their Governing Body; providing additional support where needed; and to work with to ensure Young Carers are supported and not disadvantaged because of the voluntary work they undertake looking after others.