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118 children in Torfaen are young carers: New after-school club starts in September

Torfaen Council has reported that 118 children in the county have caring responsibilities.

The information was revealed in response to a question by Councillor Colette Thomas at a recent full council meeting. She asked: “Please can you advise how many young people with caring responsibilities we have in
our schools and what is being done to support them in their educational setting?”

Councillor Richard Clark, deputy leader, said that a range of measures were in place to support young people and that

He told councillors: “There are currently 118 young carers known to the education service up to the age of 18. ‘Known’ is a key word there because many carers whether they are young or old are hidden.

“They don’t necessarily realise they are carers in the work that they do and some of them don’t want to be labelled as carers but the known carers as I  have said are 118.

“A significant amount of support for young carers is, of course, provided via colleagues in social care but the support via the education service comes via two keys areas. The local authority and schools and the play and youth service.

“Working in conjunction with schools the local authority maintains records of children identified as young carers and monitors these children through their time in school.

“We monitor attendance, exclusions and their attainment to ensure local authority officers can support schools to intervene when required and offer guidance with accessing additional support for children required with additional needs and those at risk of exclusion for instance.

“The local authority’s inclusion team works closely with partners in social care, teams around the family, Bron Afon and Families First and via as I said, the youth and play Service.

“Young carers were one of the vulnerable groups who were prioritised for support via the hub provision during the early lockdown periods during Covid.

“Schools and settings look at the young carer’s needs individually and make reasonable adjustments to support the pupil and their family and to make the necessary requests for involvement of outside agencies.

“Reasonable adjustments would include, for example, not marking them late if they’re late in, extra pastoral support or wellbeing support if needed, liaising with young carers in Torfaen around things like conferences, summer provision etc.,

“Schools consider modifications to the timetable if required to allow for the home situation ensuring the young carer has a key adult available for support and that applications for free school meals or pupil deprivation grant can be completed if the family are eligible.

“Where the young carer has additional learning needs requests for the involvement of support services would be the usual route.

“Secondly the Play and Youth Service provision, this falls under Councillor Cross’ portfolio but the play and youth service sit in education. The play service has contacted all young carers to invite them to join the four-week summer play programme, ‘Laugh, Learn and Getting Together’. Every child that asked for a place has been given one and this invite has also been extended to their siblings.

“From September the play service is also offering a new weekly after-school club for primary age young carers. This was agreed previously but obviously, during Covid this was not practical to take forward. This work has been funded via the Children and Community Grant and Families First Budget

“Pleasingly some of the young carers who previously accessed these services have returned as young adult volunteers this summer which in itself I see as a success.

“The youth service already runs weekly out-of-term-time youth club session for older young carers which can attract 20 young people. Working closely with young carers to provide and design the service offer, the youth service has been delivering one to one mentoring support for those young carers who ask for it.

“When I previously was in social care, Mandy Owen and myself visited this group and a fiery lot of individuals they are to. They are not shy in asking elected officials questions and making their viewpoints known and rightly so. They are our future and we should listen to them

“There is a forum bringing together young carers and provides peer support by youth workers. Other parts of the offer requested by young people include the healthy living programme, designed to support healthy lifestyles, the Duke of Edinburgh offer for young carers and young carer drop-in sessions.

“Although the formal guidance says ‘carers under the age of 18’ we in Torfaen, and I’m proud of this even after the age of 18 we have kept in contact with the carers up to the age of 25 and assist them in any way that we can.”

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Photo by Matthias Zomer from Pexels

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118 children in Torfaen are young carers: New after-school club starts in September

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