Young carers research, practice and policy: an overview and critical perspective on possible future directions

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Stephen Joseph


Many children, adolescents, teenagers, and young adults have caring responsibilities for parents and family members. These young carers and young adult carers are present in every country. Their responsibilities include domestic chores as well as intimate personal care and other forms of helping which are generally seen as the responsibility of adult professionals. First, this article provides an overview and critical perspective on young carers research. Research suggests that 2-8 per cent of children and young people are carers and that the caring role has an impact on their education, health, wellbeing, social opportunities, and employment prospects. Various countries have responded differently with regards to policy: some have well developed services and recognition in law whilst others are only just beginning to recognise the problem. Second, we discuss the issues and challenges for research and propose a new agenda for the development of policy, research rigour, more theoretical sophistication, and a greater awareness of the need for interdisciplinary and multiagency working. Furthermore, we call for participatory and action led research that can provide greater insights into the lived experiences of young people, their needs and how these can be met.

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