Where are we now? Twenty-five years of research, policy and practice on young carers
journal contributionposted on 09.08.2017, 10:46 by Jo Aldridge
It is more than 25 years since the critical dialogue on young carers was played out in the pages of this journal (see Morris and Keith, 1995; Aldridge and Becker, 1996). Since that time, research evidence has given us a clearer picture of the extent of young caring in the UK and its consequences for children and families, including two new national studies that focus on the prevalence and impact of young caring in England. The introduction of the Care Act, 2014 and the Children and Families Act, 2014 also places new duties on professionals to identify and support young carers and their families. However, this increased focus, not only in policy and practice but also in terms of public awareness, has created a number of dilemmas and challenges for health and social care professionals, whose duty it is to identify and support young carers. These challenges, to a large extent, both mirror and advance issues raised in the original dialogue on young carers in the mid-1990s. They centre on the drive to generate data on the numbers of young carers to support policy directives and service delivery and, some have argued – in the current climate of serious fiscal retrenchment and cuts to youth services – on promoting the needs of one group of vulnerable children and young people over other groups of children in need. This article considers some of these challenges and dilemmas.