If you work in a school as a teacher or counsellor, or if you work in the community or health sectors, you are likely to come across young carers all the time.
Knowing how to identify and support them in an appropriate and sensitive way can make a big difference to the young person and their family.
How can I identify a young carer?
Identifying a young carer is the first step to linking them in with support. Some common signs that young person is in a caring role may be that the young person:
- Is often tired and finds it hard to concentrate
- Has a lot of knowledge about illness or disability
- Is often late or misses days or weeks off school (without any reason given)
- Wants to keep their mobile on during school & contacts home a lot
- May be bullied or teased (especially about their family)
- Has back or neck pain (due to lifting)
- Is worried about an ill or disabled relative
- Tends to rush home after school
- Has symptoms of anxiety, depression, low self-esteem
- Has parents/guardians who do not attend parent-teacher interviews
- Appears isolated at school
- Has false maturity – acts older than their age
- Tends to care for peers
- Doesn’t want to talk about their family
How can I help a young carer?
Once you have identified a young carer, it is essential to link them in with support. Here are some general tips, but every caring situation is different. You can also call us on 057 93 70208 to discuss a particular case in more detail.
- Acknowledge the caring role of the young person
- Do not bring extra attention to the young person in front of their peers
- Believe what the young person shares with you
- Listen emphatically and let them know that their caring role is valued
- Provide information and answer any questions that the young person has about their family member’s condition (in easy to understand language)
- Provide them with contact details for the Young Carer Programme so they can find out more information about practical and general support services that are available to them.
- With consent, carry out a guided referral to the Young Carer Programme
- Organise for the young carer to talk to someone about how they feel (a young carer worker, school counsellor, youth worker, etc.)
- Speak to the young person’s parents and develop a support plan
Primary School Teachers Resource – A booklet for primary school teachers that provides information on how to identify young carers, tips on how to support young carers at school and educational classroom activities. This will be available shortly.
Secondary School Teachers Resource – A resource for secondary school teachers that contains information on how to identify and provide support for young carers in an educational setting. This will be available shortly.
For Youth Workers
Youth Worker Resource – A booklet for youth workers that provides information on how to identify young carers, tips on how to support young carers in a youth work setting and fun, educational activities. This will be available shortly.