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The Children and Families Bill

Changes to young carer support

Amendments are currently being proposed for the Children and Families Bill, which is in the committee stage in the House of Lords. In this stage Peers discuss each individual clause of the bill and suggest changes to wording or introduce entirely new clauses; all of these are considered during the report stage of the process.

A Bill must pass through many stages before it becomes law, which is why it can take so long for proposed legislation to be passed – the Children and Families Bill was first published in February 2013 and is not expected to come into force until September 2014.

It is intended for the bill to introduce a wide range of benefits to children and families in England and Wales, and is one of the biggest reforms to child welfare legislation in almost 30 years.

Latest Proposed Amendments

Amendments have been proposed ready for the report stage, some covering areas such as:

  • Young Carers and support available to them
  • Wording of clauses regarding adoption and foster care (including available support)
  • Wording changed to specify that parents have a ‘duty’ to maintain contact and a meaningful relationship with their child – where practicable and in the child’s best interest.
  • An amendment has also been proposed which places more emphasis on paying attention to the importance of non-resident parents being granted quality contact with children following family separation.

Young Carers Amendment

Many felt that there was an opportunity for the government to improve the welfare of young carers further following the progress made by the revised Carers Strategy in 2010.

The amendment to young carer support was tabled by MP Michael Gove in October with the intention of giving more support and help to young carers and their families as a whole, ensuring that the family receives the right support and assessment needed. It is hoped that young carers will receive better educational help, and will be prevented from taking on excessive or inappropriate duties whilst caring for another person.

It is planned for the amendment to:

  • Extend the right to assessment of support needs to all young carers under 18 regardless of the level of care they provide, how often they provide it or who it is for
  • Ensure that local authorities are required to carry out these assessments on request or if there appears to be the need for one
  • Ensure that authorities assess whether it is appropriate for the young carer to continue providing care for the person in question (taking into account their needs for support, other needs and wishes)
  • Help local authorities in providing support to the whole family through combined assessments of young carers and the person they care for
  • A young carer’s needs assessment may be combined with the person cared for – but only if they both agree to it
  • The assessment must take into account the young carer’s participation in (or wish to participate in) education, training, recreation or employment
  • Make rights and duties clearer to young carers and professionals by simplifying the law around these issues.

In the 2011 census carried out by the Office for National Statistics, 15,728 young carers provided at least 50 hours of care a week

The Children’s Society recently produced a report entitled ‘Hidden from view’ which brought to light the lack of support young carers currently receive. The report showed that young carers are no more likely to receive support than any other young person in the area, and Carers Trust found that the majority of young carers aren’t getting assessments or the support needed, and that educational attainments are suffering for these young people. Their long term prospects are being damaged by the lack of support they receive which will affect them for years to come.

You can find further reading on here www.pannone.com/media-centre/blog/family-blog.