The Next Steps initiative, led by the Carers Trust, will focus particularly on supporting children who are affected by parental substance abuse or mental health issues.
It will build on the work of the Prevention Through Partnership (PTP) programme, which was developed by the Children’s Society and which supported local authorities to put in place development plans and best practice approaches to support young carers and their families.
Children and families minister Edward Timpson confirmed the funding last week. He said: “Young carers demonstrate extraordinary dedication every day for which we cannot thank them enough.”
The Children’s Society says there are 139,000 young carers in the UK, although it believes this figure is the “tip of the iceberg” as many young people hide their caring responsibilities for fear of stigma or bullying.
Other studies have estimated that there are as many as 175,000 young carers, with 13,000 of these caring for more than 50 hours a week.
A report last year highlighted how young carers can often be punished for being late to school or absent. More than half of the young carers involved in the study, by charity Family Action, had missed school with 60 per cent saying they had problems with punctuality. They can also display poor behaviour because of a knock-on effect from problems at home.
Young carers are also more likely to be NEET – not in education, employment or training – the report said. It found that 72 per cent of teachers did not know how many young carers were in their school.
The funding announcement coincided with an event in Parliament during which 30 young carers met with professionals to highlight the success of the PTP programme.
One young carer, 16-year-old RJ Dorey, co-chaired the Parliamentary event. He said: “There is huge impact on me, being a young carer. I have to carry around this weight on my shoulders as I juggle studying, caring, family and friends. We would like authorities to look at the bigger picture, the whole family, and not just one person’s problems.”
For more details, visit www.childrenssociety.org.uk/youngcarer