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22 September 2017, 07:14
Thousands of young carers across Essex will benefit from a new countywide service aimed at ensuring they get the tailored support they need.
Essex County Council today approved a new young carers service, which includes a commitment to spend up to an extra £275,000 a year on services for young carers over the next five years.
There are estimated to be more than 10,000 young people in Essex who provide regular care for a family member, including some as young as just six. However, only 478 attended a support group last year and just 295 received any one-to-one support.
With the numbers of young carers expected to continue to grow, the council is determined to ensure they have access to the help and support needed to prevent them from being disadvantaged by their caring responsibilities.
The new in-house service, which comes into effect across the county from April 2018, centres around a key worker model and has already been successfully piloted in the Braintree district.
Young people and their families will benefit from a more comprehensive and joined-up package of one-to-one support. Where requested, their key worker will help with things such as access to mental health services, liaising with schools to improve attendance and attainment, finding social and leisure opportunities, signposting to other support services and intervening at times of crisis.
The new approach will enable the progress of young carers to be monitored more closely by utilising the council’s existing data systems.
It will also offer families far greater flexibility than the existing system of provider-led support groups, removing the barrier of set days and allowing families to access personalised support at times to suit them.
Other support will include telephone and online helplines, respite groups and trips, training opportunities (first aid, dealing with medication, fire safety and online safety etc) and a system of school-based support.