Despite some national examinations of policy responses for young carers (YCs), this study provides a first comprehensive cross-national comparison of the different legislation, policy and service frameworks that exist to protect and support adolescent young carers (AYCs) in six European countries (Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom) and how these are enacted. Until now, research has focused on estimating numbers of AYCs and the impact of caring tasks.
A preliminary examination of policy responses to YCs was followed by expert interviews. Case study analysis of 25 interviews and a cross-national synthesis were undertaken before incorporating feedback from former YCs. Different responses to YCs were found, ranging from protection and support in policy and legislation and a definition for YCs, to a total lack of recognition and support.
Findings highlight the potential to extend existing legislation, policy and service frameworks to include AYCs, and the importance of recognising and raising awareness of YCs. Awareness should be raised at all levels of society for example with professionals in health, social and education sectors and the general public. A definition for YCs is needed, so AYCs can self-identify and AYCs should be recognised as an important target group for policy makers.
The study forms part of the Me-We project, funded by the EU Horizon 2020 Programme.
Published on the Journal of Youth Studies, it can be accessed here.