- In Wales, there are around 30,000 Young Carer and Young Adult Carers – all under the age of 25
- You still have your rights as a child if you care for someone and you are under 18
- If your need for support can be met by the Local Authority, then the Local Authority has to help you
Although it’s supposed to be your parents looking after you, sometimes, something happens which means you end up looking after one of your parents or another relative, perhaps a brother or sister, or a grandparent. As a Young Carer, or a Young Adult Carer (if you’re over 16), you shouldn’t miss out on being a child. You should still be able to have an education, to have time to relax and meet with friends, the same as every other child in Wales. It can be very hard if you’re looking after someone at home, so you should have help to make sure you can benefit from all your rights.
As well as being able to have all the rights that all children should have, in Wales, there’s a lot of support available to help you in your role as a Young Carer/Young Adult Carer. Looking after someone else can be very stressful and worrying, especially if you’re young. If you know there is support available for you, and for the person you care for, it can help you make decisions about your life. This support means you’re more able to go to school, or to go to work if you need to, and to have time to meet friends and relax.
You have the right to have your needs for support assessed by the local authority. This means that someone from the local authority will need to find out about what you have to do as a Young Carer/Young Adult Carer, and how this is affecting the rest of your life. The local authority can assess your needs even if you’re not caring for someone at the moment, but will be caring for someone quite soon. For example, this could help if your mum or dad is going to be coming out of hospital and you know you will be caring for them.
The local authority where you live is responsible for making sure that all carers know about their right to be assessed.
The local authority has to look at different things to work out what support you need as a Young Carer or Young Adult Carer, and how you can get that support. As a Young Carer/Young Adult Carer the local authority has to find out what you’d like to happen, as well as what the people with parental responsibility for you, would like to happen. They have to take into account your age, and your understanding of the situation.
You have to be involved in the assessment. This will give you an opportunity to tell the local authority how being a Young Carer/Young Adult Carer affects you, and what you would like to happen.
You don’t have to be assessed, but it is your right, as a Young Carer/Young Adult Carer, to have the assessment so you can get the help you need.
If you’re 16 or 17 and refuse to have an assessment, the local authority doesn’t have to assess your needs. Someone with parental responsibility for you can refuse the assessment if you don’t have the understanding about the assessment, what it involves, and what the outcome could be, unless there is someone else who could make the decision for you.
If you’re under 16 you can refuse an assessment as long as the local authority are happy that you understand the decision you are making. Someone with parental responsibility can also refuse an assessment. If someone with parental responsibility refuses an assessment, but you would like to go ahead with the assessment, then the Local Authority should listen to your wishes as long as it thinks that you fully understand the situation.
If you’ve refused an assessment, but later change your mind, you can ask the Local Authority for an assessment and they should carry this .
The person you care for will also be entitled to an assessment to find out what his or her needs are and what support they need. The local authority might combine the assessments, but you will normally have to agree to this.
If you have other needs of your own, not just your needs as a Young Carer/Young Adult Carer, you can have an assessment for those needs. This assessment could be combined with the assessment of your needs as a Young Carer/Young Adult Carer.
When your need for support has been assessed, the Local Authority should be in a position to know what you need as a Young Carer/Young Adult Carer. The local authority will look at your need for support and then work out whether it can help you. There are rules which set down the circumstances when the local authority can help you.
If your needs relate to your rights, such as your right to education and to leisure time and spending time with friends or to your development, the local authority will have to help you if you can’t manage on your own or with the help of others – either other relatives or friends who are willing to help, or other community groups.
Sometimes, the local authority is allowed to charge for the support it provides to people. The local authority will have to look at the financial situation that affects you, your family and the person you are caring for to decide whether you should get the support without having to pay for it.
The kind of help you can get will depend on what your need for support is. The local authority will have lots of options open to it, to make sure you get the support that will help you best.
If the local authority has to meet your needs for support, it has to create a support plan. The plan has to describe your needs and the sorts of things you want to happen longer term – your personal outcomes – that you discussed during the assessment, and what the local authority has to do to meet your needs for support and help you reach your personal outcomes. If one of the ways the local authority will meet your needs is by making direct payments to you, these have to be included in the support plan too.
If the support plan isn’t meeting your needs for support, the local authority has to review it. You can also ask for a review of the support plan. After the review, the local authority has to decide whether to keep the plan as it is, to change the plan or close the plan.
Yes, you should be given a copy of the support plan.
You should also get a copy of the plan if it is changed after a review.
If the plan is closed down, you should get a copy of the ‘closure statement’ which explains why the plan has been closed, and an explanation of how successful the plan was. If the local authority thinks that you still have support needs but that they can be met in other ways and not by help from the local authority, the closure statement has to explain these.
Even if the local authority doesn’t have to meet your needs for support, it still has to make sure that you’re not being abused or neglected or at risk of being abused or neglected. The local authority also has to think about whether there is something else it can do for you. There might be other services available which reduce your need for support. The local authority might also be able to give you information or advice about other support in the community that isn’t provided by the local authority.
Your situation will be unique, so you will need to get specific advice if you have needs for support that the Local Authority has told you it won’t meet. If the local authority says it won’t meet your needs, you can complain.