Young carers

What a 'young carer' is, the difference between primary and secondary carers and where young carers can get support, including financial support. 

What is a young carer?

Young carers are children and young people (up to the age of 18) whose life is affected by looking after someone with a disability or a long-term illness. The person they care for may be a parent, a sibling, another family member or a friend, who does not necessarily live in the same house as them.

They carry out significant or substantial caring tasks and assume a level of responsibility which is inappropriate to their age. Caring tasks can involve physical or emotional care, or taking responsibility for someone’s safety or well being.

The impact of taking on an inappropriate caring role can include underachievement or absence at school, mental or physical ill health.

Whilst many children and young people will do jobs around the home, appropriate to their age and ability, young carers do things and take on a level of responsibility that is inappropriate to their age. Young carers do not always recognise themselves as being ‘carers’. They may see their role as something they ‘should’ be doing for that family member, or that they really want to be doing.

Young carers need to be differentiated from those children and young people who share some of their circumstances but cannot be defined as young carers. Not every child whose parent or sibling, is ill or disabled, is necessarily a young carer.

“Disability” refers to actual or perceived physical, sensory, emotional or learning impairment, long term illness, HIV, drug or alcohol dependence, mental health problems, frailty or old age.

If I am a carer, am I a primary or secondary carer?

Young carers may be primary or secondary carers.  By primary carer, it is meant that there is no other adult or young person assuming the main caring role for the ‘cared for’.

Being a secondary carer means that there is another parent, adult or sibling who assumes the primary caring role.  It is sometimes the case that a child presents as a secondary carer when in fact he/she is the primary carer.

In many families, the main carer has to work to support the family and may be absent from the house for significant periods of time.

Another example would be when the responsible adult suffers mental health problems as a result of their own caring experiences, or develops a habit of substance misuse as a way of coping. In such instances, the young carer is often looking after more than one person. Support is also available to siblings of children with an illness, disability, mental health or substance misuse problem. 

Where can I go to for support and what services are available?

Further information, advice and support is available from the Families Information Service Hub,  from the pastoral staff at your/your child’s school and available from the local young carers' project within this area:

East Riding young carers and siblings service

Children's Participation and Rights Team
Anlaby Children's Centre
First Lane
HU10 6UE

Tel: (01482) 565560

Further information is also available on the action for children website.

Action for children (external website)

What financial support may be available?

Direct payments are available to allow for flexibility in the small number of circumstances where a 16 or 17-year-old is choosing to undertake a substantial caring role for a disabled adult for a period and where the council has decided to provide the carer with a service to meet their needs as a carer. It could in some circumstances be more helpful to the young carer to receive direct payments, for example to allow them to arrange for carer services to be delivered in such a way as to minimise any disruption to their education that would result from their decision to care. An example where it might be appropriate for a 16 or 17-year-old to provide assistance is where they are involved in looking after a terminally ill relative. In such a temporary situation, direct payments may provide flexibility, which enables them to have a break from caring.

Short term funding may also be available through the local authority from the disabled children services.

What will our service providers try to achieve?

Young carers should be recognised and valued, receive support for their caring role and be safeguarded against taking on unwanted responsibilities which prevent them achieving their full potential. Our service aims to :

  • remember disabled parents are parents first and need to be supported in that role
  • be aware of the needs of children in the family when you are working with an ill or disabled  person
  • respect the work of young carers and value their contributions
  • be informative and offer young carers and siblings clear accessible information
  • give time for young carers or siblings to talk about what is happening to them
  • listen to what young carers or siblings say they need
  • be flexible and creative in trying to meet the needs of young carers and siblings
  • be clear and honest about confidentiality and about who else needs to know
  • recognise that young carers and siblings need space and time to be young and carefree
  • talk to colleagues and work together to support young carers.

What other related services might I need to know about?

The following are related services and it may benefit you to visit their sections on the website for further information:

Further information is also available on the following websites:

Last Updated: Wednesday, 01 February 2017