A ‘young carer’ is the term used for children and young adults who have informal caring responsibilities, often for a family member. Legislation in England defines a ‘Young Carer’ as a ‘person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person’.
A local authority in England must take reasonable steps to identify the extent to which there are young carers within their area who have needs for support. (HM Government, 2014)
What is a School Carer Passport?
The visible form of a Carer Passport may be a card, wallet, badge or perhaps a sticker within a student’s school handbook. Linked to this will be information held by a school about the student and provision of personalised support according to their individual circumstances and needs.
Improves identification of young carers
Many schools do not know which of their students have caring responsibilities as young carers often do wish to self-identify. Schools however are ideally placed to identify young carers at an early point and before their family circumstances and caring roles begin to impact them.
As a Carer Passport demonstrates to young carers and their families that they are recognised, understood and supported by the school, and where the benefits of a Carer Passport are clearly communicated, young carers (and their families) will be encouraged to self-identify.
Once a student has been identified, the Carer Passport will signify to all staff, including supply staff, that the student is a young carer which will prevent them having to explain their circumstances multiple times. Where circumstances change, the Passport will help students to explain things more easily to staff.
Sets out an offer of personalised support
Identification of a young carer should trigger an assessment of how the student’s situation impacts on their school life and their learning needs. This should inform a personalised learning plan, or ‘offer’ of support that is clearly communicated to a student so they are clear what they can expect.
The offer is likely to include a range of practical support and dispensations including an offer of flexibility and extensions with homework, access to a phone, support with transport to school and with after school clubs and activities. A Carer Passport should also be a gateway for young carers to access emotional support from pastoral staff, a school nurse, through counselling, or through peer support.
Improves understanding and communication with family
A Carer Passport scheme in a school will help to raise the awareness and understanding of all staff of the specific needs of students with caring responsibilities. Where an individual student holds a Carer Passport, this should advise staff of their individual circumstances and the support that has been agreed for them by the school. The information held should include how caring impacts on a student’s education, the additional support that a student needs and monitoring information on their attainment and attendance.
A Passport can also hold information to support accessible communication with the student’s family and how to help the family to fully engage with their child’s education.
Initiates and facilitates other services
A Passport should also be the trigger for schools to provide information about further support that students and their families can access and to connect families with other services, such as a local young or young adult carer group.
Concessions and discounts
A Carer Passport that is recognised and supported across an area also has the potential of providing young carers with concessions on sport, leisure activities and travel, as well as a range of other discounts in their local area.