Presented by: Ed Janes (Cardiff University)

Thirty years of research has studied the experiences of young carers, children who care for family members due to an illness or disability, and highlighted the often negative impacts on their health, education and social opportunities. However, with many young carers and their families wishing to remain unknown to services, most research has focused on those who access support as a result of them having substantial caring responsibilities. This seminar will look at the need to investigate the wider spectrum to better understand when caring becomes problematic.

The session will share the findings of a doctoral study that recruited young carers from schools as well as projects, enabling involvement of the wider spectrum. The results highlighted the broader experiences and impacts of the participants, with many having control over their stable roles and manageable responsibilities. Their control contrasted significantly with those who had long-term caring roles and excessive responsibilities, but particularly those with inappropriate tasks and difficult family relationships.

This seminar will include a practitioner-led discussion on the findings, including whether support should be tiered to the different parts of the spectrum, but also if awareness raising of the larger group is the first step to identifying those with problematic roles.

The seminar will also seek to gather practitioners’ positive and negative experience of supporting and identifying young carers, and whether health and education practitioners have the advice and guidance need to meet the increasing expectations in policy and legislation. The outcomes of this discussion will help inform future research on this topic.