We ran out of time to answer all the questions we had during our young carer podcast on education, so Hannah at the Carers Policy Team in the Scottish Government has provided written answers to some of them.
- What policies are currently in place for carers in education?
Under the Additional Support for Learning Act, education authorities have duties to identify, provide for and review the additional support needs of their pupils, including needs which arise as a result of being a young carer.
Local authorities and schools should ensure that personalised support is in place to meet the individual physical and emotional needs of children and young people as they return to school. We have developed guidance which aims to support local authorities and schools with these considerations.
Information, advice and support is also available for families from a range of partner organisations including Parent Club, Reach and Enquire.
The Scottish Government funds a range of organisations, including Enquire and My Rights, My Say to provide advice and support to families on additional support for learning.
Additional Support for Learning Review
The independently chaired review into the implementation of additional support for learning was published in June. The review heard from a range of groups and individuals, including children and young people and young carers organisations. It suggests several areas for improvement in how we can best support our children and young people to flourish in their leaning and beyond.
The Scottish Government is carefully considering the recommendations made by the report with partners in COSLA and ADES and we will publish a full response in autumn 2020.
The review will inform, and help us to build on, work that is already being taken forward to enhance the experiences of children and young people.
- Is anything being done to safeguard young carers mental health during this time?
We have been encouraging young carers to ensure they speak to their schools and carer centres about any concerns, as well as promoting the #AyeFeel which Young scot has been developing with Mental Health colleagues here in the Scottish Government. Although these tools are aimed at all young people, young carers can benefit from it as well.
Additionally, if young carers start to feel overwhelmed, it’s important to speak to someone they trust, whether that’s a friend, a family member, their GP or a helpline such as NHS24 (shortcode 111) or Breathing Space (0800 83 85 87).
We have also been working with the national carer organisations to develop a new digital wellbeing hub to help staff, carers, volunteers, and their families access relevant support, and self-care and wellbeing resources as they respond to thecoronavirus pandemic. Your constituent can find the unpaid carer section of the Hub here.
- Why? And if possible can you tell us who made the decision for local councils to relax the duty on Young Carer Statements as part of the new Coronavirus Act and when this will be restarted?
At the onset of the pandemic there was a great concern that people’s caring roles would change, and a lot of young people might become young carers, when previously they had not been. This would then mean that a backlog of Young Carer Statements could form and this would slow the process of getting support in place when it is most needed.
Therefore this emergency legislation means that there will be times when authorities will decide to identify young carers’ needs without completing a full young carer statement. However, there is still a duty on authorities to continue to provide support for young carers under section 24 of the Carers (Scotland) Act. This is to ensure that where support is urgently required, it can be prioritised.
Within the Act it says that the Scottish Parliament must review its use every two months. This is done through gathering information and data from Local Authorities, and other sources to form a report. This report is then reviewed and discussed by Ministers and the Scottish Government. The most recent report was published on 11 August and is available here. From this the decision was taken to leave the Act in place for now. The next report to the Scottish Parliament on the operation and status of the powers under the UK and Scottish Coronavirus Acts will be due after the next reporting period ends on 30 September.
- Can you tell us a bit more about the Young Scot Young Carer Package? Are young carers involved in developing the package?
The Scottish government has an existing partnership with Young Scot to provide an exclusive platform for young carers with tailored discounts and opportunities. This package is available to all young carers aged 11 to 18 and we are encouraging the promotion of this as widely as possible. From the design stage, through to its launch and into its continual development young carers have been at the centre of it all. If any young carer has any feedback for Young Scot they are happy to receive it, and do their best to incorporate it into their work.
Due to the pandemic we provided Young Scot with an extra £200,000 to ensure that there are additional opportunities available that are suitable for social distancing and self-isolation. Young Scot also made it so that Young carers can now sign up without a Young Scot card, so no one misses out.
New opportunities include subscriptions to mindfulness relaxation apps, mobile data top ups, sanitary product vouchers and entertainment subscriptions and e-vouchers to some of the most popular stores. Visit New digital opportunities for young carers for a live list of all available rewards. To find out more about how to sign up you can go here.
Young Scot and the Scottish Government will continue to listen to young carers and add to this package to ensure they are meeting their needs.
The Scottish Government has also worked closely with Young Scot to ensure that any carer specific information is posted on their young carer platform, in an easy to digest format.