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Young carer's assessments for under-18s


You may have been told that you are going to have a young carer’s assessment, but you might not be sure what one is or what it involves.

Don’t worry! We will tell you everything you need to know about them below.

A young carer’s assessment is the way the local authority (also known as the local council) decides whether you need any extra support from them. It is your opportunity to tell somebody all about what you do to help the person you care for. They will then see whether they can make it easier for you.

Under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 and Section 96 of the Children and Families Act 2014, the local authority is legally required to carry out assessments with all young carers living in their area.

That means that if you are under 18 and care for a family member, you are usually entitled to a young carer’s assessment. This will be regardless of who you care for, the type of care you provide or how often you provide it.

There are a small number of exceptions, however. The local authority might not provide an assessment if the care you provide is part of paid or voluntary work, if they do not think you seem to have any support needs or if you have had an assessment already and nothing has changed since then.

If you are aged over 18, then you are entitled to an adult carer’s assessment instead. If this applies to you, take a look at our guide ‘Moving on to carer's assessments when you turn 18’.

The local authority should be proactive in identifying young carers that are living in the area, so they may already know about you and the care you provide. They have a duty to provide an assessment ‘on the appearance of need’ which means that they should do it once they know that you are a young carer rather than waiting for you to ask for one.

If they don’t provide one for you automatically though, you or your parent/guardian can get in touch with them directly and request one. If you don’t know which local authority you come under, you can find out on the GOV.UK website. Or if you don’t want to speak to the council directly, you could talk to a teacher or another professional you see regularly about it instead.

If you have had an assessment before but something has changed since then, you can also request they do another assessment for you.

The assessment will likely be done by a member of staff from the local authority. They will usually be a social worker and they will be trained in doing these assessments. They will come and visit you and ask you some questions. They may work with you to fill in a form together. They may also want to speak to you alone for at least part of the assessment, without your parents around, to make sure that your voice is being heard properly. And they might consult young carer experts and other people who know you like your teachers to find out a bit more information.

When they are doing the assessment, the local authority must pay attention to a number of things, including:

  • Your age, how much you understand and your family circumstances.
  • Your wishes, feelings and preferences.
  • What you want to get from the assessment.

The assessment should recognise that you are a unique person, and how you feel about being a young carer may well be very different to how others feel.

During the assessment, they will ask you about what type of jobs you do as a young carer and how often you do them. They want to understand how much the care you give is relied upon by the person you care for and your wider family.

They are also interested to know the impact that being a carer has on you, particularly on your physical and emotional health, your schoolwork, your recreation time, your future employment opportunities and your wider development. The starting point of the assessment will be the idea that children are children first, so they will want to make sure that being a carer isn’t stopping you from having a normal childhood too.

They will also want to find out how you feel about being a young carer. They will want to know if there are tasks you do that you just really don’t want to do and whether or not you want to carry on being a young carer at all.

This all helps them to decide whether they think it is appropriate for you to keep doing all of the types of care that you are doing, or if they should find someone else to help with some of the tasks to give you a bit of a break.

For instance, if you are regularly absent from school or you find it difficult to go out and make friends because you are a young carer, then they might decide you shouldn’t carry on providing as much care as you have been doing. Or if there are particular tasks which they think are inappropriate for you to do, such as washing the person you care for, taking them to the toilet, giving them medicines or lifting and carrying them, then they might decide it is better if someone else does these particular jobs instead.

The assessment will involve you directly, as well as your parents and the person you care for. If you or your parents request anybody else to be involved, then the local authority will also include them too.

When doing all of their assessments, the council must take what is known as a ‘whole family approach’. So when they are conducting any assessments on the person you care for, they should consider how their needs impact on you and the rest of your family. And when they are conducting your assessment, they will consider how your needs impact on your family too.

You also have the choice about whether or not you have a joint assessment with any other members of your family. It can sometimes help to have them done at the same time so that your assessments are linked and compliment each other. It also means you don’t have repeat the same things again and again to different people at different assessments.

You might want to think about whether there is someone outside your family who you want to be there. If you think you would find it difficult to talk to a stranger alone about how you feel or might struggle to get across the points that you want to make, then it might help to have someone else there too. This could be an adult you already know and trust, such as a teacher or family friend, or it could be what is known as an ‘independent advocate’. This is someone whose job is solely to be on your side and get your views across. To find out more, take a look at our guide ‘Getting an independent advocate’.

The term ‘assessment’ can make you think of it as an exam that you need to prepare for, but it isn’t like that at all. It is not in any way a test of you or the caring you do and you cannot pass or fail it. You don’t need to revise anything or do any preparation if you do not wish to.

But if you want to feel a bit more ready and in control, it can sometimes help to make some notes about a few things beforehand. You might find it helpful to think about all the things you do as a carer, how often you do them and how long you spend on each of them, and also how you feel about doing these tasks. You might also want to think in advance about any questions you have for them, so that you don’t forget them at the time.

After the assessment, everyone who was involved (i.e. you, your parents and anyone else you asked to be there) will receive a written record of it. This will include whether or not the council thinks you need support and whether they are able to provide it.

If they do think you should have some extra help, they will put in place what is known as a support plan. This might be combined with plans they have in place for other people in your family too, to make one document, or it might be kept separate. It may also contain information about other support services you might find helpful such as young carer groups. This support plan will then be reviewed regularly, at least once a year, to make sure it is working well.

The report should also tell you what to do if you don’t think the assessment was done correctly or if you disagree with the outcome. If you would like to find out more about this, take a look at our guide ‘Making a complaint about the local authority’.

Then it is also worth taking a look at our guide ‘Transition assessments for young carers approaching 18’.

Then take a look at our guides 'Moving on to carer's assessments when you turn 18' and 'Carer’s assessments' for further information about the type of assessment you are entitled to.

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