Family life, and what can be done to support families, is a core pillar of my work as Children’s Commissioner. That’s why I was delighted to be commissioned by the Government to undertake an Independent Review of contemporary family life.
The Family Review will seek to understand children and families’ perspectives on modern family life and will explore the interaction between family life and children’s aspirations and outcomes. Through the Family Review, I will investigate how we can improve children’s outcomes by developing the way public services understand the needs of families as a unit. This Review will also work to identify what is already done successfully in support for families, and what can be improved in current provision.
During the Attendance Audit, an in-depth investigation into the barriers to regular school attendance, young carers were identified as a unique group of children who need additional support to attend school.
Young carers don’t just need help at school, they have complex family lives and often require additional support at home as well.
To hear more from young carers, this summer my team visited the Young Carers Festival (YCF) 2022. Hosted by The Children’s Society and YMCA Fairthorne Group, the Young Carers Festival is the biggest gathering of young carers in the world.
The team asked hundreds of young carers what family means to them, what they would like to change for young carers and what support they would like to see for young carers and their families. Their response was over six metres long!
Family is clearly important to young carers. But many talked about needing more support for their families, and said that the impact that caring can have on them needs to be recognised. One young girl, when asked what she would change for young carers, simply wrote “be noticed.”
I will continue working through the Family Review and ongoing Education research to ensure that young carers are heard from and noticed by schools, local authorities and government alike.