(Report by Ms H Davies, Director of Specialist Children’s Services and Mrs S Hohler, Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education Directorate)
(Ms A Hornsby, Policy Officer and Mrs J Wainwright, Director Commissioning and Partnerships Group were present for this Item)
(1) The Committee viewed a short video in which young carers voiced their feelings about being a carer for a loved one. This was closed to the public to preserve the identity of the young people.
(2) The Committee considered a report that highlighted national development activities during 2009-10 and the recent consultation with young carers and the next steps in that process.
(3) Ms Hornsby felt that from a national perspective this was a good time for carers as the issues that surround them had been picked by a number of national streams of work. This included ‘Think Family’ which was the overarching approach towards the integration of Children and Families within the support of services from Adult and Children’s Services and within that work Central Government and the Association of Directors of Children Social Services and Adult Social Services had issued the Memorandum of Good Practice for Young Carers. The Memorandum mirrored the work that Kent 2009.
(4) Ms Hornsby mentioned the comments from the young carers on their position in school being torn between their desire to tell about their position as a carer and the fear that if they release the information what would happen in their lives that they could not control. Working closely with schools had helped young carers to seek support. The National Healthy Schools Enhanced Model now included the requirement to consider young carers as part of the social and emotional wellbeing aspect of ‘Healthy Schools. This would provide a clear pathway into schools. There was a range of support for young carers provided through the partnership with voluntary organisations. This included support ranging from respite care, residential activities, weekly meetings and weekly tailored support for those young carers most in need.
(5) Consultation with young carers had been commissioned to look at what work still needed to be carried out to deliver the strategy. There had also been work carried out with professionals to increase their understanding of the issues faced by young carers but this needed to continue. Mrs Hornsby said that this dialogue needs to continue with young carers to monitor the impact of the strategy.
(6) Members were given the opportunity to ask questions and make comments which included the following:
(7) In response to a question by Mr Craske, Ms Hornsby advised that all the young people should be in school and that was why there was a need to work closely with schools to help young people feel confident about talking about their caring status and coming forward and sharing that information. Very good partnerships had been forged with the Voluntary Sector Organisations and local schools that was enabling the identification of more young carers. This work needed to progress at a pace that the schools and young carers were comfortable with. Young carers were clear that they did not want to feel pressurised in talking about their caring status.
(8) In reply to a question regarding paragraph 2.4, page 22, of the report by Mr Robinson, Mrs Wainwright advised that there were around 600-700 children home educated in Kent. For some parents and children home education was a very successful choice. For young carers home education may be a pragmatic choice to enable them to exercise their carer’s responsibilities but may not be in their best interests.
(9) In reply to a follow up question, Mrs Wainwright explained that it was difficult to give a figure of how many young carers there were being home educated as the local authority’s right to examine the quality of the education they were receiving was very limited and therefore the local authority may not know if the young person was a carer or not. Mr Robinson said that this was an area of concern and the local authority should do all it could to ensure that young people were receiving the best education at home as possible.
(10) In reply to a question by Mr Smith, Ms Hornsby advised that the guidance was not yet available regarding the National Healthy Schools Framework and the expectations of Academies and Free Schools. It was accepted that young carers will do better in school if they are well supported and all good schools would endorsed this.
(11) In a follow up question, Ms Hornsby said that there would be opportunities to share good practice with the Academies and the Free Schools and there were a range of materials that could be offered to schools to support them.
(12) In response to a question by the Chairman, Ms Hornsby advised that most young carers were in school so the local voluntary sector organisations would hold assemblies to raise awareness with primary and secondary schools. Through the curriculum there were other opportunities to discuss issues caring activities through Person, Social, and Health Education (PSHE). There were leaflets that were available to young people. Young people could self refer to Young Carers organisations and there was a connection through the Youth and Community website for young people to young carers’ organisations.
(13) In reply to a question by Mr Myers who referred to paragraphs 3.2 and 3.3 on page 23, Ms Hornsby stated that there was a lack of clarity on funding streams and this would become clearer after the Comprehensive Spending Review in September. Ms Davies added that there would be increased clarity on funding by the Autumn on the Central Government Funding and the Directorates base budget to determine the effect on services.
(14) RESOLVED that:
(a) the responses to questions by Members and their comments be noted;
(b) the Minutes on this report from this meeting be used as part of the presentation to the Kent Children’s Trust Board to express the committees concerns; and
(c) the report be noted with thanks.