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.