It is part of normal family life for children to help out with domestic tasks and with the care of younger children. However, some children and young people have much bigger commitments than others. Young people who care for ill or disabled parents or siblings do so out of love of course, and they often find the role very rewarding, but for some, without support their caring role can take a toll on them.
Their role can, for example, affect their education and their freedom to join in with social activities. Some young people worry about the health of their loved one. Today on Young Carers Awareness Day I want to pay tribute to these young people and explain how we are taking forward young carers’ ID cards in Wales to raise awareness in communities of the caring role that many young people undertake.
I have met with many young carers over the years, including since becoming Deputy Minister, and I am always impressed by their dedication and also how well they articulate what kind of support they need. I know many find it difficult to keep explaining their situation to people. They do not always experience good understanding and empathetic responses from adults in positions of authority. This is where we hope ID cards can help, in identifying a young person’s status as a carer.
We have been discussing young carers’ ID cards with carers’ organisations for some time and planning for their introduction. Also, in May last year, the Senedd voted to bring forward national introduction of the young carers’ ID card and work with local authorities to implement the card, with Government support.
The implementation follows the valuable initial research done by Carers Trust Wales, with Welsh Government funding. We are developing a national scheme in collaboration with local authorities rather than imposing one of them. To do this properly takes time.
Local authorities take different approaches to planning and commissioning services for young carers in order to respond to local need; for some local authorities this includes managing their own carer ID card schemes. Consequently, local authorities are at different stages of preparedness to deliver a consistent national ID card, and a phased approach is needed to ensure that the systems and processes required are in place across the board.
The first phase of roll out will involve several local authorities acting as early adopters to pilot the scheme. The bedrock of the scheme is the work of Carers Trust Wales (funded by Welsh Government) have done to raise the awareness of carers amongst professionals such as GPs and pharmacists and their development of schools-focused resources to raise awareness amongst teachers and other school staff of young carers and their needs.
Alongside these early adopter local authorities there will be a cluster approach, with local authorities of similar locality, urbanisation and demographics grouping together. Other cluster members will be asked to work with the early adopter in their area to prepare for a future national roll out of the ID card. This provides an opportunity to trial different methods across different localities. I wrote to all Welsh local authorities before Christmas about this phased approach.
The Welsh Government is committed to supporting young carers. The development of a national ID card scheme is crucial to this. It is one of a number of developments I will set out in a new national plan for carers which I will consult on during 2020.