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16 May 2014, 07:40 | Updated: 16 May 2014, 08:19
Research has found thousands of children, some as young as five, are caring for family members on the South Coast.
Figures show there are more than 3,600 young carers in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and 1,500 in Dorset.
The research found the burden of having to care can have serious consequences for children's education, including poor exam results and being bullied, and more needs to be done.
The Children's Society and the Carers Trust have worked alongside other charities to prevent tens of thousands of children from slipping under the radar of teachers in classrooms up and down the country - because of a far-reaching new schools programme.
The Young Carers in Schools Programme will provide education staff with resources and training to make sure young carers get vital support.
The organisations involved - Carers Trust, The Children's Society and Young Carers in Focus - reveal more alarming data about the struggle young carers are facing.
Recent analysis reveals that young carers are lagging behind in school and missing out on their childhoods because of the demands placed on them. This includes:
- Around one in 20 young carers miss school because of the amount of support they have to provide at home.
- Young carers also have significantly lower educational attainment at GCSE level - the equivalent to nine grades lower overall than their peers.
- A quarter (26%) of young carers were bullied because of their caring role.
Figures provided by the Census data released on 16 March 2013 showing number of young carers (aged under 16), broken down by local council area:
- Hampshire 2,394
- Portsmouth 462
- Southampton 466
- Isle of Wight 302
- Dorset 834
- Bournemouth 370
- Poole 328
The Children's Society Chief Executive Matthew Reed said:
"An alarming amount of young carers in your area are having their lives turned upside down, juggling school work and looking after their loved ones.
"We care passionately about their welfare and exposing the scale of the issue is simply not enough. That is why we are working with schools to improve the support these young carers get so that it is consistent across the country. One young carer slipping under the radar is one young carer too many."
Thea Stein, Chief Executive of Carers Trust, said:
"This programme will help schools to stop and think about how taking on the responsibilities of caring impacts on every aspect of a young carer's life. We will be working closely with schools to ensure they have the guidance, resources and training they need to support young carers and ensure they can achieve their potential."
Schools can apply for a bronze, silver and gold Young Carers in Schools Award, as part of the programme. Schools and local authorities interested in taking part in the Young Carers in Schools Programme should visit youngcarer.com/ycinschools.
(Picture: The Children's Society)