Young and ‘care-full': The support needs of young kinship carers
Young kinship carers include sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, other relatives and family friends. Previous research has focused on young people who have a caring role with frail aged family members or people with disabilities, but there has been no research specifically about young kinship carers. The project set out to provide a better understanding of these kinship care arrangements with the aim of advocacy for better support for children and carers. The Young and ‘Care-full’ research project explored the experiences and support needs of kinship carers aged 30 years or less, with a particular focus on differences between their experiences and those of grandparent kinship carers. The research included analysis of census data, 42 interviews with young kinship carers, and 16 interviews of young people with experience of care by a young kinship carer.
Census data indicated that in 2011 there were over 11,000 young kinship carers living in their own independent households and an unknown number more living in multi-generational households. The interviews revealed that young kinship carers experience significant disadvantage in relation to educational and employment opportunities and particular financial difficulties, as well as a lack of informal and formal support. Nevertheless, there was evidence that children in the care of these young people were often thriving and progressing well with their schooling and other activities.
Advocacy and support service for young kinship carers
A partnership has been established with a Queensland community service, IFYS (Integrated Family and Youth Services) and a group of young kinship carers, to undertake advocacy for recognition and support, and to seek funding to develop a pilot support program for young kinship carers across Australia. As of early 2020, young kinship carers from four States have participated in the following ways:
- A co-design workshop held in Queensland in November 2018.
- Individual and panel presentations at conferences and forums.
- Radio, television and print media interviews.
- Deputations to Members of Parliament.
For more information about any aspect of the project, please contact Meredith Kiraly
- R E Ross Trust
- Sidney Myer Fund
- Oz Child
- Integrated Family & Youth Services (IFYS), Maroochydore Queensland.
Literature about sibling kinship carers
Roth, D., Lindley, B., & Ashley, C. (2011). Big Bruv Little Sis: Research findings on sibling carers raising their younger sisters and brothers. London: Family Rights Group.
Selwyn, J., & Nandy, S. (2012). Sibling kinship carers in England: Evidence from the 2001 population census. Children and Youth Services Review, 34(1), 194-199.
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