8. YOUNG ADULT CARERS
8.1 Transition is a key part of everyone's lives. The demands of coping with change and moving on from that change can have a significant impact on young carers, who have to cope with the same transitions as their peers, whilst balancing the stresses of caring for a parent, sibling or other person in their lives.
8.2 In recent years, the needs of young adult carers, aged 16-25 years, have been given some attention in research and in service developments. Recognising this group's particular needs and the very limited provision to address them, expressing concern for their own future support, young carers at the Scottish Young Carers Festival 2009 recommended that more should be done to support older young carers.
"Recognise we need help until 25 years."
Young Carer, Scottish Young Carers Festival, 2009
"Make a bigger group for 18-25….. no resources."
Young Carer, Scottish Young Carers Festival, 2009
8.3 This chapter highlights some of the issues that young adult carers face, it outlines some of the positive responses that have been made, both by universal services and by dedicated services, and it brings forward some specific actions that seek to improve provision for young adult carers.
8.4 For young adult carers the transition into adulthood can present particular challenges. At a time when their peers are leaving school and making positive plans for employment, training and education, older young carers often have to deal with demands, responsibilities and emotional challenges that influence their choices and limit their future opportunities.
8.5 For example, young adult carers may;
- be committed to continue to provide care, but may not be able to tell others, including careers advisors and jobcentre staff, that this is why they are not making other plans
- may feel compelled to continue to care, or professionals may have made assumptions about this limiting their opportunities and any ambition for their future.
- be anxious about leaving home, because of concern about the cared-for person or fear that a younger sibling may have to take on caring responsibilities.
- lack confidence, self-belief and social skills, may not have many friendships and supports and may not have succeeded at school because of the impact of their caring responsibilities, perhaps over many years.
- be desperate to leave home at the earliest opportunity, but be ill-equipped to deal with the practical and emotional challenges of setting up their own home and living alone or with other young adults.
8.6 Many young adult carers encounter these difficulties at a time when the dedicated young carers' service that supports them is no longer able to continue to do so, either because of capacity issues, or because most of these services are only funded to work with young people up to 18 years.
8.7 Evidence from the Scottish Young Carer Services Alliance suggests that services are often just beginning their work with young carers of this age when funding restrictions require that the person can no longer access the service. Approaching the age of 18, some young adult carers also stop attending the dedicated young carers' services, despite their continuing vulnerability and their need for support, because they don't necessarily identify as well with other, younger carers.
8.8 In addition, there are very few examples of 18-25 year old carers seeking support from the services that support adult carers, as they don't tend to identify themselves with these services, which have tended to support older carers.
8.9 To address this gap in provision some dedicated young carers' services have been able to develop specific services for young adult carers. These provide essential support at what can be the most challenging of times.
See, for example the UPBEET Project in Dundee, and Edinburgh Young Carers Project 16-25 Group. Others, such as East Ayrshire Carers Centre have set up initiatives to support young adult carers into employment.
"I have got my confidence back since I became involved with the project. The only thing I have found challenging is to get up in the morning and leave my mum when she is upset. I have enjoyed meeting new people and seeing my worker because she is very nice and boosts my confidence."
Pauline, 17 years
"When working with the staff at the project I feel it is a relief because I know I can off load and anything I say is in confidence. I feel I am getting more opportunities in various different areas in my life."
Laura, 19 years
16+ Learning Choices
8.10 Universal support that assists school leavers to make informed and positive choices is, of course, also available to young carers. 16+ Learning Choices provides such an opportunity.
8.11 16+ Learning Choices is an integral part of Curriculum for Excellence and focuses support on those young people who are eligible to leave compulsory education. It facilitates the offer of a place in post-16 learning for every eligible young person who wants it. In doing so it contributes to the Scottish Government's national indicator for positive and sustained post-16 destinations.
8.12 16+ Learning Choices helps young people to stay in learning post-16, since this is the best way to improve their long term employability. It aims to help build capacity in individuals, families and communities, to support economic growth in Scotland and to help prevent and reduce youth unemployment.
8.13 16+ Learning Choices applies to all young people within the Senior Phase. It gives added attention to those who face significant barriers to achieving positive and sustained post-16 destinations. Young carers are recognised as a specific group who are at risk of disengaging from learning.
8.14 Local authorities are leading on the implementation of 16+ Learning Choices and are working towards universal delivery by the end of 2010. Schools, Skills Development Scotland, Colleges and other providers of learning and support for young people all have important roles to play in implementation. 16+ Learning Choices has been a catalyst for strengthening post-16 transition planning, bringing together community planning partners to support young people into positive and sustained destinations.
ACTION POINT 8.1
The Scottish Government will continue to support local authorities and their partners to implement 16+ Learning Choices. This will include working closely with Skills Development Scotland in their role as the national provider of careers information, advice and guidance; and as the hub for 16+ Learning Choices data and monitoring the impact on vulnerable groups.
More Choices, More Chances
8.15 The Scottish Government's More Choices, More Chances strategy adopts a multi-agency approach to support young people into positive and sustained destinations and is closely associated with the principles of GIRFEC. This focuses on early identification of those at risk of disengagement; effective early intervention to sustain their engagement; and re-engaging those who have disengaged to help them back into learning, training or employment.
8.16 Young Carers are vulnerable to disadvantage and educational disaffection. This can result in truancy, exclusion and low levels of attainment. More Choices, More Chances recognises young carers as a group who should be targeted by local authority partnerships to ensure that they have sufficient focussed support to maintain positive engagement in learning.
ACTION POINT 8.2
The Scottish Government will continue to support local partnerships to deliver more choices and chances for young people at risk of moving into a negative destination. This will include monitoring impact on vulnerable groups such as young carers. As part of this the Scottish Government will highlight the need for collaboration between dedicated young carers' services and local More Choices, More Chances lead officials. This will result in broader awareness of the barriers to education, employment and training and will highlight the importance of flexible, tailored learning opportunities and relevant supports to enable them to combine learning with caring.
Skills Development Scotland
8.17 Skills Development Scotland, as the national body responsible for careers, skills, training and funding advice, has a key role to play in supporting young carers to make a successful transition when they leave school and in helping them to identify and achieve their career aspirations.
8.18 Supported by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Skills Development Scotland has identified a number of actions that they intend to advance, in partnership, to support this strategy and the delivery of better outcomes for young carers. Where appropriate, the Scottish Government will support Skills Development Scotland in advancing these actions.
ACTION POINT 8.3
By 2011, Skills Development Scotland will identify baseline data of likely numbers and destinations of young carers through collecting information from appropriate local partners, secondary schools and the School Leavers Destination Return.
ACTION POINT 8.4
By 2012, Skills Development Scotland will design and develop materials focussed on career management and employability and will develop training opportunities for young carers' services.
ACTION POINT 8.5
Skills Development Scotland will review and update previous publicity materials for young carers which identify their options and the support available, in order to encourage young carers to plan to achieve their career aspirations.
ACTION POINT 8.6
Skills Development Scotland will work with the Scottish Young Carer Services Alliance to develop content about Skills Development Scotland for inclusion on www.youngcarers.net.
ACTION POINT 8.7
By 2011, Skills Development Scotland will explore ways in which referrals between young carers' services and Skills Development Scotland can be formalised and improved.
ACTION POINT 8.8
By 2012, Skills Development Scotland will review and evaluate with the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance and BME young carers the particular issues they face in accessing education, employment and training
Further Action To Support Young Adult Carers
8.19 A sub-group of the Young Carers Strategy Steering Group considered the particular needs of young adult carers. In doing so, they reflected on recent key research findings, both from local projects and in terms of national studies.
8.20 The group concluded that the findings of a major study undertaken by Saul and Fiona Becker 31 into the needs of young adult carers were highly relevant to this strategy. The sub-group developed these recommendations to suit the Scottish context and suggested that they inform further work by the Scottish Government and partners. The recommendations are contained in Appendix 5.
ACTION POINT 8.9
By 2011, the Scottish Government and relevant partners will develop a "Young Adult Carers Action Plan" to progress the recommendations contained in Appendix 5 of this strategy.