Children and Families Bill: a landmark moment for young carers
On Tuesday, the Secretary of State for Education Rt Hon Michael Gove MP made an announcement that the Government is going to change the law for young carers and published an amendment to the Children and Families Bill. It was a landmark moment for young carers and their families and for the National Young Carers Coalition’s (NYCC) campaign, led by Carers Trust.
It means that not only will young carers have stronger rights to assessment and support, but it will also be made clear to professionals that services should work together so that the whole family is supported. For the first time, children’s and adults’ law will be linked together so that the law is really clear and no one can say they don’t know what they are supposed to do to support young carers.
This should help to prevent children and young people from undertaking caring roles that can sometimes stop them from going to school; cause them stress and anxiety and prevent them from achieving the things they want to achieve.
Our hope is that these changes will make a difference to children’s lives because professionals in a position to recognise and support young carers will understand how caring can impact upon their lives and provide support so that young carers can thrive like other children and young people.
This is really at the heart of the issue as for too long and too often caring has not seen as something that can actually harm a child’s outcomes. Children have been left to get on with it, even if they are doing things most adults would not be expected to do.
The changes are significant in another way, because they prove that sometimes the Government does listen when young people raise their voices and charities unite and call for change.
It is true that this doesn’t happen often, but our campaign has shown that if we work together and take the time to find out what the problems are, by listening to young people and families, then we can speak clearly and confidently about why change is needed.
Since July 2012, young carers and young carers’ services across the country have contacted their MPs and written to the Government; some have met with politicians and taken part in events, tweeted or talked to their local newspaper about the campaign. This activity has been supported by all the major charities for carers and children and families who have met with the Government to work out the best way to make the changes needed.
A clear and united message is a powerful one which is why it is not a surprise that politicians from all the major political parties supported the National Young Carers Coalition’s calls for change. Some of those MPs and Peers have also championed young carer’s rights for many years – people like Barbara Keeley MP, Rt Hon Paul Burstow MP and Robert Buckland MP – and we are grateful for all the support from Parliamentarians, without whom we would not be here today.
It was also important that earlier in the year representatives from local government agreed to key principles for changing the law for young carers. The Association for Directors of Adult Services (ADASS), Association for Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and the Local Government Association (LGA), joined with NYCC to call on the Government to improve young carers’ lives.
For Carers Trust it’s been a long journey but for a charity who represents all carers, whoever they are, whomever they care for and whatever their experience of caring may be, we are delighted that the Government has listened to young carers and intends to give them stronger rights.
So now there is only one more thing to say and to do – thank you to all the young carers, practitioners and politicians who have made this happen. Let’s celebrate!