Young carer transition in practice under the Care Act 2014

Version 1: Published March 2015


The Care Act 2014 places a duty on local authorities to conduct transition assessments for children, children’s carers and young carers where there is a likely need for care and support after the child in question turns 18 and a transition assessment would be of ‘significant benefit’ (see below). This resource should be read in conjunction with the statutory guidance underpinning the Act, [1] in particular chapter 16: ‘Transition to adult care and support’.

Caring for an adult can limit the opportunities for a young carer to take part in social activities, employment and training or to access further education. In some instances, unmet emotional needs may arise as a result of the caring role. Examples from practice show that case workers who have a good working relationship with young carers and their families can make a difference to enabling the young people to become independent. 

This resource explores how the provisions in the Care Act around transition can be put into practice for young carers moving from children’s to adult services to ensure that they are appropriately supported and encouraged to fulfil their education and employment potential. One young carer’s journey through transition (Emma’s story) will provide an example of how several services worked together to support her into adulthood. Map the process from identification, through assessment, advice and information to transition.

Definition of young carer

A young carer is ‘a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for another person’ (Children Act, 1989, section 17ZA(3), as inserted by section 96(1) of the Children and Families Act 2014). For the purposes of transition, a young carer is ‘a person under 18 who provides or intends to provide care for an adult’ (Care Act 2014, section 63(6)). In both cases, care does not include volunteering or employment in care services, but it does include a young person providing practical support, personal care and/or emotional support to an adult (usually a parent, but it can also be a sibling, grandparent or friend of the family) who may, for example, have a disability, serious illness, or needs relating to old age or as a result of the misuse of substances.

Emma’s story

Emma was referred to Barnardo’s Action with Young Carers when she was 13 and is a carer for her mother. Emma has a high amount of caring responsibilities spread across domestic, household, personal, emotional and sibling care. Emma’s mother has suffered from arthritis, spondylitis, two mini-strokes and depression. Emma has a good relationship with her grandmother. There is a history of conflict between Emma and her younger sister, which her mother struggles to manage. Her mother is in receipt of direct payments and has a personal assistant.

Emma was referred to the Barnardo’s service by her children’s social worker. At the time, Emma was subject to a Child in Need Plan. Over the time she has been involved with the service this has been escalated to child protection level and de-escalated to the Common Assessment Framework (CAF).