Minister Launches a Study on the Lives of Children who Play a Caring Role

Monday, 10 May 2010

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Barry Andrews TD today launched a report on the lives of young carers in Ireland at the National Conference of the Carers Association in Croke Park. Speaking at the launch, Minister Andrews said: "Study of Young Cares in the Irish Population was commissioned by my Office and undertaken by the Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway. It is the first national qualitative study of young carers in Ireland and gives an insight into the lives of children and young people, who provide care in the home and uncovers the reality of their situation". "While the report is preliminary and exploratory, it does mark an important milestone in improving our understanding of the positive and negative impacts for children who are involved in caring and makes a positive contribution to policy development and debate on this issue", stated Minister Andrews. "It is encouraging that the report notes that many of the young carers or their households received supports, which they found helpful", added the Minister. Minister Andrews noted that in 2010, HSE funding of approximately €210 million will provide nearly 12 million Home Help hours in respect of an estimated 54,500 clients. Home Help support is generally provided for people with needs, over the age of 65 years. "However, the service is flexible and the remaining 15% of the budget supports clients under the age of 65 years. This service represents an important indirect support for young carers. In addition, young carers who are over 16 may be eligible for the Respite Care Grant if they are providing full time care, which is administered by the Department of Social Protection" added the Minister. "My Office will help to raise the profile of young carers by disseminating and making available, an attractive six page briefing note highlighting this study's key messages" concluded Minister Andrews. Dr Allyn Fives, a co-author of the report, from the Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, presented the study's key findings. Dr Fives explained that young carers who took part in this study performed such tasks as helping with domestic chores, general care including help with feeding, medication and mobility. "Some young carers also provided psychological or emotional support or provided intimate care, involving toileting, dressing and bathing. Looking after siblings was also identified as a way in which some young people took on a caring role. Other types of care included seeking support from service providers, translating and interpreting information, helping with paying bills, post or telephone calls" he continued. Dr Fives noted that both positive and negative impacts of caring were identified in the study. "Caring for a family member can have positive impacts for young people. It can lead to greater maturity and compassion as well as closeness to the person cared for by the young person. However, for some young people there can be negative impacts, including absence from or distraction while at school, feeling socially isolated, becoming ill, and experiencing feelings of boredom, worry and resentment" added Dr Fives. "It is important to differentiate between a level of caring that has largely positive consequences and a level of physical or emotional caring that impairs the child's health, development or welfare" he concluded.
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