Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Partnership (LSCP) Policy to Support Young Carers and their Families


This chapter was updated in October 2022.

1. Key Principles

Children's and Adult Services need to work in partnership to identify, assess and support Young Carers and their families regardless of which service they contact in the first place. All members of Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Partnership commit to work together locally to adopt a whole system, whole family, approach to providing support for young carers and their families. This will be achieved through working in partnership across systems, within the agreed process described below.

Children and Adult Social Services will work together to fulfil duties in Law [1] and all Services and Partners will ensure that the following key principles [2] underpin practice:

  • The starting point will be to assess the needs of the adult or child who needs care and support; and also assess what needs for support a young carer within the family has;
  • The presence of a young carer in the family will always constitute a level of need and will trigger either an assessment, or the offer of an assessment to the person needing care and to the young carer themselves;
  • A whole family approach is essential when assessing an adult needing care where there are children in the family providing care to the adult, or undertaking wider caring responsibilities. The adult's assessment and eligibility for support will take into account their parenting responsibilities and the functioning of the family;
  • Assessments should ascertain why a child is providing care and what needs to change in order to prevent them from undertaking excessive or inappropriate caring responsibilities which could impact adversely on their wellbeing, education, or social development. For example, special care should be taken to make sure that a young carer is not arriving late to school because of caring responsibilities in the morning;
  • It is recognised as good practice to seek the views of children and adults separately, as it may be very difficult for children to say how they really feel in the presence of an adult who may also be the person they care for;
  • Consideration must be given to whether a young carer is a 'child in need' under the Children Act 1989. The assessment must establish if they are unlikely to achieve, or maintain, a reasonable standard of health or development without the provision of services, and whether their health or development may be impaired if they or their family are not provided with support.

These principles apply equally to all children up to the age of 18, recognising that young carers may require more focused support during the period they will be making the transition to adulthood. It is also intended that a consistent and coordinated approach is taken to identifying and supporting young adult carers aged 18 to 24.

[1] Responsibilities for identifying and supporting young carers are placed on the local authority as a whole. These responsibilities are set out in the Children's Act 1989 (as amended by the Children and Families Act 2014) and under the Care Act 2014. Section 96 of the Children and Families Act 2014 introduces new rights for young carers to ensure young carers and their families are identified and their needs for support are assessed. From April 2015 all young carers will be entitled to an assessment of their needs from the local authority. This new provision works alongside measures in the Care Act 2014 for transition assessment for young carers as they approach adulthood, and for assessing adults to enable a "whole family approach" to providing assessment and support. These obligations further explained in The Young Carers (Needs Assessments) Regulations 2015 and in Guidance related to both of these Acts and "Working Together to Safeguard Children".

[2] Joint statement on key principles for supporting young carers made by DH and DfE (updated 2015)

2. A Shared Understanding

The definition of a young carer is taken from Section 96 of the Children and Families Act 2014; "…a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person (of any age, except where that care is provided for payment, pursuant to a contract or as voluntary work). For the purposes of this Policy, this relates to care for any family member who is physically or mentally ill, frail, elderly, disabled or misusing alcohol or substances. This policy also applies to young adult carers aged up to 25 and the transition from children's services to adult care and support.

3. Identifying Young Carers and Promoting Well-Being

At the first point of contact all Agencies working with families; particularly those undertaking or receiving referrals, or with responsibility for undertaking assessments, will have a key role in identifying young carers. At the point of assessing the adult receiving care all Practitioners will ask whether there are children in the same household and, if there are, they will establish how much care and support is undertaken by any children via discussions with the adult who is being assessed and other family members, including the child(ren) concerned. Practitioners responsible for assessing people with care needs will identify how to support the person in need of care so that children and young people are not relied on to provide excessive or inappropriate care. It is essential that the particular vulnerabilities and needs of children and young people are recognised.

Ideally all young carers would be identified whether they had any unmet needs or not. Every young carer is entitled to an assessment of their needs (with their wishes and feelings clearly identified in their own voice wherever possible) and so there is an expectation that this should be offered. In Lincolnshire we use the Early Help Assessment to record this information. Practitioners who have no contact with the child or young person would be expected to complete what they could of the assessment with the information they have and determine from the family who is best placed to gain the child/young person’s voice.

A family may choose to decline the Early Help Assessment – however, they can still give consent for their child to be known to us as a young carer. Practitioners should take time to explain the process of the Early Help Assessment and the potential benefits for the child. Being clear about the purpose and extent of the assessment will support parents to make informed decisions about consent.

In some instances, the child may request an Early Help Assessment without the consent of their parents/carers. In these instance, the child’s capacity to consent should be considered. NSPCC Gillick Competence Guidelines.

Practitioners responsible for assessing adults with care needs must be able to recognise and respond to risks to children's safety and welfare. They must know how to respond where they have concerns that children are, or may be, suffering significant harm.

4. Assessment

4.1 Responsibilities for Assessment Provision

There will be provision for an assessment of needs for support for all young carers under the age of 18, on request from them or their parent, or on the appearance of need. This will be available regardless of who they care for, what type of care they provide or how often they provide it. Young carers, the person cared for and, if different, the parents of the young carer will be informed about the assessment process and we will ensure they are able to participate in the process as effectively as possible. Assessment of young carers will be undertaken via an Early Help Assessment, unless there are clear safeguarding concerns which should immediately be referred to Children's Social Care, in accordance with local Policies and Procedures.

The primary responsibility for responding to the needs of young carers and young adult carers, and ensuring an appropriate assessment, rests with the Service responsible for assessing the person they support, rather than the age of the carer. This means that:

  • Young carers supporting a child with disabilities are the responsibility of the Children’s Service working with the disabled child, and they will also need to undertake carers’ assessments for any young adult carers who look after disabled children; or refer to the Young Adult Service Provider, Carers First. Children with additional needs may also be young carers and should not be discounted due to their own needs;
  • Adult Services, including those services supporting adults with Mental Health, substance misuse issues, Learning Difficulties and/or disabilities, will identify children within the household family network, and will undertake an Early Help Assessment per family, but considering the needs and views of each individual child in order to ensure that young carers are not left with excessive and inappropriate levels of caring responsibilities that puts them at risk of becoming vulnerable. They will also need to undertake carers’ assessments for young adult carers. Adult Services will refer to Children’s Services where the child is thought to be a child in need, (as described in A Model for Assessment Procedure); or identify with the family the most appropriate professional or agency to provide Early Help. Appropriate Early Help may be universal or targeted Health or Education provision, or Voluntary Sector Services; and the wishes of the young person and family should be paramount.

4.2 Whole Family Approach to Assessment

A whole family approach will be embedded into local assessments. This means making sure any assessment takes into account, and evaluates, how the needs of the person being cared for impacts on the needs of the child who is identified as a possible young carer, or on any other child or on other members of the household.

4.3 Principles of Practice in Undertaking a Young Carers Needs Assessment

No care or support package for a parent, other adult or sibling, should rely on excessive or inappropriate caring by a young carer to make it sustainable.

When carrying out a young carer's needs assessment we will work to determine:

  • The amount, and type of care which the young carer provides;
  • The impact of the caring role on the young carer's wellbeing, education and personal and emotional development;
  • Whether any of the caring tasks the young carer is performing are excessive or inappropriate having regard to all of the circumstances;
  • Whether a needs assessment of the cared for person (be they a child or adult) has been carried out, and if not, to request one;
  • Whether any of the young carer's needs for support could be met by providing support or services to:
    • The person cared for [by the young carer]; or
    • Another member of the young carer's family.
  • What the young carer's needs for support would be likely to be if he or she were relieved of part or all of his or her caring role and whether the young carer has any remaining unmet needs.

When carrying out an Early Help Assessment for a young carer, we will:

  • Ensure that the assessment is carried out in a manner which is appropriate and proportionate (in the light of the young carer's age, needs and wishes and feelings;
  • Adopt a whole family approach;
  • Ensure that any person who carried out a young carer's needs assessment has sufficient competence to be able to carry out that assessment and be an appropriate person to carry out the assessment, in the light of the young carer's wishes, age, sex and understanding;
  • Where considered appropriate, or necessary to do so, consult persons with expertise and knowledge relevant to the young carer; and also to consult any person the young carer or their parent wishes to involve;
  • Ensure that the young carer, the person cared for and, if different, the parents of the young carer are informed about, and consent to, the assessment process prior to the assessment, and are helped to be able to participate in the process as effectively as possible;
  • We will provide all young carers, their parents and any person (as appropriate) with a copy of the assessment and information on agreed actions.

Where a young carer is already known to Children’s Services, Adult workers will discuss the family’s needs with Children’s Services to ensure a coordinated approach to support for the family is provided. This contact and communication should also be reciprocated by Children’s Services contacting Adults Services as appropriate, evidencing the conversation about a joint and shared approach between services.

Where a young carer is assessed as requiring Early Help, a Team Around the Child (TAC) will be initiated. The TAC will include family and other support networks relevant to the family, as well as representatives from all services providing support to the family. For more information, please visit:

Where there are any aspects of a situation that indicates there are immediate concerns about a child’s safety and/or adults at risk and they require protection from harm these will be responded to swiftly and in line with local safeguarding procedures.

See Section 47 Enquiries and Social Work Assessments Procedure.

5. Information, Advice and Advocacy

All Partners will work towards a position where Services are available to all young carers and their families offering information, advice, advocacy, representation and support. This includes, where appropriate, support through local young carers' services, young adult carers projects or Parenting groups. We will work with Partners in the local community to ensure that information and advice for young carers is available in a range of appropriate settings and formats that are accessible by children and young people.

Young carers and their families should be advised of the Young Carers Card and its benefits. Further information can be found here: LSCP - Young carers

6. Transition to Adulthood

We will offer a transition assessment to all young carers. Young adult carers often find their education training and employment prospects are challenged by their caring role. We will therefore work with the young carers and their family to consider how best to support them to prepare for adulthood and to raise and fulfil their aspirations. This will be regardless of whether the young carer currently receives any Services and includes young carers whose parents’ needs are below the Local Authority’s eligibility threshold. [3]

The transition assessment can be followed up with comprehensive information and advice about support in the community.

We recognise that the power to combine assessments can be important at transition and, where appropriate, we will consider combining any existing plans with transition plans and plans for the adult carer. When assessments are combined, an appropriate named person will be identified to coordinate transition assessment and planning across Agencies.

[3] Paragraph 16.18 Care and Support Statutory Guidance; Issued under the Care Act. DH 2014

7. Information Sharing and Safeguarding

Effective and timely information sharing between Agencies, including Health and Education, is critical to empowerment, preventative work, supporting transitions, and promoting the welfare of young carers. Within the framework of existing local information sharing protocols our aim is to ensure specific recognition of the position of young carers and their identification and support.

See Protocol on Sharing Information in Order to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children.

Early sharing of information is essential if there are emerging concerns. No Professional should assume that someone else will pass on information that they think may be critical to the safety or wellbeing of any child or adult. If a Professional has concerns about a child's or adult's welfare and believes they are suffering, or likely to suffer, harm or neglect then they must share the information with the Local Authority and, or, the Police (if they believe or suspect a crime has been committed). Information-sharing should be in line with local agreements and Caldicott principles.

See A Model for Assessment Procedure

8. Putting this Policy into Action

Programmes for learning and development will be implemented across Agencies to raise awareness and understanding of young carers and their families. Training will be designed to ensure those undertaking young carers' assessments (Early Help Assessments) have the knowledge and skills required. This will include ensuring that Practitioners in the Local Authority and Partner Agencies are aware of the specific requirements of young carers; the Care Act (statutory guidance), amendments to the Children Act (see DfE, The young person's guide to the Children and Families Act 2014) the revised Working Together to Safeguard Children and any accompanying Guidance and Regulations in relation to the Young Carers (see Children and Young Persons, England, The Young Carers (Needs Assessments) Regulations 2015).

Training can be accessed via the following link: LSCP – Training

9. Local Partnerships

Young carers should be identified, assessed and their families supported in ways that prevent excessive or inappropriate caring and support parenting roles regardless of which Service or Agency is contacted first. Partnership working is key to providing joined-up, seamless Services. This will include working with the NHS, voluntary organisations, Education (including further education), Public Health, Housing and local communities to support young carers.

The Joint Strategic Needs Assessment will include identification of the needs of young carers and young adult carers in the local area. The local Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy will include shared Strategies for meeting these identified needs; setting out arrangements for working together and the actions that each Partner will take individually and collectively.

More information on the JSNA and the Health and Wellbeing Board can be found here: LSCP - Health and Wellbeing Board