6. YOUNG CARERS ASSESSMENTS
6.1 A thorough, timely, individualised assessment is the key to identifying need and to accessing appropriate support. In 2002, the Community Care and Health (Scotland) Act amended the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 to give carers the right to request an assessment of their ability to care and extended this provision to young carers under the age of 16 years.
6.2 Despite young carers being given this right, very few receive an assessment of their contribution and needs. Of those who responded, 81% of young carers at the Scottish Young Carers Festival had not been assessed. In their 2004 21 survey, Dearden and Becker found that only 18% of young carers surveyed had been assessed. These are low numbers considering that the young people involved had been identified and were being supported as young carers.
6.3 There may be particular reasons why young carers aren't offered a Carer's Assessment. The contribution of young carers may be overlooked as the focus is on the cared-for person. If the young carer is caring for an adult, the Social Worker involved may be from an Adult Social Work Team and may not feel responsible for carrying out an assessment of a child or young person.
6.4 Also, young carers may feel disempowered, may not be aware of their entitlements and may be unable to assert their rights. Bibby and Becker 22 observe that young carers experience a double disadvantage, as children and young people they are attempting to deal with adults, and as carers they are lay individuals dealing with professionals.
6.5 The limitations of Carers Assessments for identifying the needs of young carers and the low take-up, as well as possible issues about who is responsible, combine to suggest that a different approach is needed. Getting It Right For Every Child provides such an approach.
6.6 GIRFEC's unified approach provides assessment tools and a framework for use by practitioners in all agencies to gather and analyse information about a young person's strengths, pressures and support needs. It actively involves the young person in the assessment and the action planning.
6.7 The three components of the GIRFEC practice model (see Appendix 4) are:
- The eight Well-being Indicators (safe, healthy, active, nurtured, achieving, respected, responsible and included) are used to record observations, events and concerns and to inform a child's plan.
- The My World Triangle helps practitioners inform their assessment through a better understanding of a child or young person's whole world.
- The Resilience Matrix can be used to weigh up the balance between vulnerability and resilience, and between adversity and protective factors.
6.8 In applying a GIRFEC approach, practitioners will combine some or all of the following actions in the way most appropriate to the child or young person's needs:
1. Using the Well-being Indicators to record and share information that may indicate a need or concern and then taking action as appropriate
2. Using the My World Triangle to explore this information and to gather further information about a child or young person's needs
3. Using the Resilience Matrix to help organise and analyse information
4. Summarising needs against the Well-being Indicators
5. Constructing a plan and taking appropriate action
6. Reviewing the plan.
ACTION POINT 6.1
The Scottish Government will continue to support the full implementation of the GIRFEC programme and practice model. We will support Community Planning Partners to work with members of the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance to support their efforts to incorporate a GIRFEC approach into their policies and practice.
6.9 In addition, the Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (as amended in 2009) places a duty on local authorities to make arrangements to identify children and young people's additional support needs.
6.10 A parent or young person may ask a local authority to assess whether a child or young person has additional support needs and if they require a Co-ordinated Support Plan ( CSP). A CSP is a statutory document which is subject to regular monitoring and review. Education authorities must have arrangements in place to identify those children and young people who need a CSP. Not all young people with additional support needs will require a CSP and a CSP is not a precursor to the delivery of services.
6.11 These approaches do not preclude the need for specialist assessments. Many young carers' services have developed their own assessments to inform their work with individual young carers.
ACTION POINT 6.2
The Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance will encourage and support dedicated young carers' services to review their assessment models in light of the development of the GIRFEC programme.