Thousands of young carers across Essex will benefit from a new countywide service aimed at ensuring they get the tailored support they need.
Essex County Council today approved a new young carers service, which includes a commitment to spend up to an extra £275,000 a year on services for young carers over the next five years.
There are estimated to be more than 10,000 young people in Essex who provide regular care for a family member, including some as young as just six. However, only 478 attended a support group last year and just 295 received any one-to-one support.
With the numbers of young carers expected to continue to grow, the council is determined to ensure they have access to the help and support needed to prevent them from being disadvantaged by their caring responsibilities.
The new in-house service, which comes into effect across the county from April 2018, centres around a key worker model and has already been successfully piloted in the Braintree district.
Young people and their families will benefit from a more comprehensive and joined-up package of one-to-one support. Where requested, their key worker will help with things such as access to mental health services, liaising with schools to improve attendance and attainment, finding social and leisure opportunities, signposting to other support services and intervening at times of crisis.
The new approach will enable the progress of young carers to be monitored more closely by utilising the council’s existing data systems.
It will also offer families far greater flexibility than the existing system of provider-led support groups, removing the barrier of set days and allowing families to access personalised support at times to suit them.
Other support will include telephone and online helplines, respite groups and trips, training opportunities (first aid, dealing with medication, fire safety and online safety etc) and a system of school-based support.
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “Unfortunately the vast majority of the estimated 10,000 young carers in Essex are not known to us and do not have access to the support they need.
“I am therefore delighted that we have approved a more flexible and tailored new service that will allow us to better identify, track and support young carers.
“By pledging an extra £1.2million over the next five years, we have made our commitment to young carers very clear and I am confident we will be able to help ease the caring burden and ensure they can enjoy the same opportunities as their peers.”
To make a referral for a young carer to get support, please visit youth.essex.gov.uk/young-people/young-carers/
or to find out more about the support available to carers in Essex, please visit carersinessex.org.uk
Young carers by numbers:
- 10,000 – the estimated number of young carers in Essex
- 470 – the number of referrals for young carer assessment between April 2015 and December 2016
- 869 – the number of young carers registered with young carers groups in Essex in 2016/17
- 6 – the age of the youngest carer known to Essex County Council
- £1.2million – the extra funding Essex County Council has pledged to spend on services for young carers over the next five years