Alliance MLA Eóin Tennyson has said we need to ensure that the needs of young carers are being recognised and met as far as possible.
The Upper Bann MLA was speaking after the launch of a Young Carers in Education Report from Action for Children. Mr Tennyson said: “Right across our community there are thousands of carers, carrying out a vital role looking after older, disabled or vulnerable relatives or friends. One area that is often invisible is the role of the young carer, who, on a daily basis has to balance their role as a carer with their education and the pressures school can bring.
“This report from Action for Children clearly shows how we need to raise awareness with schools of the high levels of young carers we have in Northern Ireland, and how they can support these children. Research has shown that levels of young carers in education is higher in Northern Ireland than any other part of the UK.
“While a schools primary role is to deliver a good education, they also have a duty of care, so identification of children who have a caring role could go a long way to ensuring support networks are in place, including signposting children to relevant organisations, such as Action for Children.
“Action for Children are to be congratulated on this report. Their recommendations, which are based on testimonies from young carers, include the need to help teachers understand the responsibilities of young carers and the importance of flexibility when it comes to attendance or homework. The Report also recommends a connection with teacher training courses to help trainee teachers become more aware of young carers.
“I will be working with Action for Children to help deliver their recommendations, because our young carers in education need care too.”