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Further support needed for young carers in Ireland – Burke

67,000 young carers in Ireland are aged between 10-17

24th March 2023 - Colm Burke TD

Additional support is required for young carers in Ireland, an area which can be underreported and overlooked, according to Fine Gael’s health spokesperson.

Cork North Central Colm Burke TD said: “Family Carers Ireland recently delivered a briefing to the Oireachtas Cross Party Interest Group on Family Carers regarding challenges facing young carers, which has shone a further light on the support required in this area.

“A collaborative research project conducted by Family Carers Ireland, UCC, UL, and the Irish Secondary Schools Union (ISSU) has found that there are approximately 67,000 young carers in Ireland aged between 10-17 and that there is also a substantial amount of young adult carers aged between 18 and 24 in Ireland.

“They have defined young carers as “children under the age of 18 who provide regular and ongoing care and emotional support to a family member who is physically or mentally disabled or misuses substances” and young adult carers as those “aged 18-24 who provide or intend to provide care, assistance or support to another family member on an unpaid basis.”

“The project has found that the vast majority of young carers and young adult carers are in education, while over a third of young adult carers are in employment. The findings show that a significant number of young carers and young adult carers struggle to balance their role and education or employment. It also shows that these carers are more likely to suffer from depression than their peers and have high levels of stress, loneliness and difficulty coping.”

Deputy Burke continued: “It is vital that we provide assistance and support these carers. It is also important that we shine a light on the vital work that they do and gather state data to ensure that there is an awareness of the exact level of young carers and young adult carers in Ireland to assist in this ask.

“I welcome the statement from Minister O’Gorman that he is giving due consideration to the formation of a cross party working group to consider how best the Government can support young carers.  Officials from his department intend to meet with officials from relevant departments to consider how best the Government can support young carers.

“I have raised with the Taoiseach the need to include information relating to the care provided by young carers to be incorporated into future census returns. I have been informed that the CSO is currently in the process of preparing a high level publication to include age profile of carers, hours spent caring and geographical location of carers, which is due for publication in September.

“I also highlighted the urgency in providing additional support in the form of increased tax credits for young adult carers to enable them to stay in the workforce. While there are no specific tax credits specifically aimed at young carers, these credits, as well as other allowances are available to those with caring responsibilities.

“Young carers and young adult carers provide a valuable role in our communities. They look after vulnerable people, while at the same time balance their roles with education and employment in a very formative time in their lives. We must ensure that the work they do is supported by the state, whether it be in terms of supporting them in education, employment or financially with tax credits. We must also determine exactly how many people are providing this level of care to ensure they get the support they need.”

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