As the EU plays a pivotal role in shaping policies that impact the lives of its citizens, it is essential to explore how it addresses the unique needs and challenges faced by young carers.
Young carers are individuals under the age of 30 who take on caregiving responsibilities for a family member with an illness, disability, or other care needs. Balancing caregiving duties with school, social life, and personal development can pose significant challenges for these young individuals.
But what are the policies for young carers in the European scene?
Certain policy measures are currently relevant to young carers and can be utilised by them for self-advocacy. Let’s take a look at the main EU policies:
EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child is a major EU policy initiative to better protect all children, to help them fulfil their rights and to place them right at the centre of EU policy making. It pools all existing and future initiatives on children’s rights under one coherent policy framework.
The EU Child Guarantee complements the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child. Its objective is to prevent and combat social exclusion by guaranteeing effective access of children in need to a set of key services. It was precededby a feasibility study focussed on four socially vulnerable groups of children, including those living in precarious family situations, such as young carers.
The Youth Guarantee was established in 2013 by a Council Recommendation and the EU Member States committed to ensuring that young people under the age of 25 receive a good quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship within 4 months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. The Reinforced Youth Guarantee extends the age of young people to 30 and acknowledges that young women are more likely than young men to become inactive due to caring responsibilities, such as looking after children or dependent adults, or other personal or family responsibilities.
EU Care Strategy on access to affordable high-quality long-term care is a political document which concerns all individuals in need of long-term care, as well as all both formal and informal carers. It defines ‘informal care’ as long-term care provided by an informal carer, namely someone in the social environment of the person in need of care, including a partner, child, parent or other person, who is not hired as a professional long-term care worker.
While in recent years, the EU has taken steps to acknowledge the significance of addressing the needs of young carers, it remains indebted to this vulnerable group and is still in the process of developing policies that offer support, resources, and recognition. And it remains important to work to improve and create policies to support and bring out this group that is so little visible and valued.
To find out more, here are some useful resources:
EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child: https://commission.europa.eu/strategy-and-policy/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/rights-child/eu-strategy-rights-child-and-european-child-guarantee_en#the-eu-strategy-on-the-rights-of-the-child
Monitoring the implementation of the EU strategy on the rights of the child: https://commission.europa.eu/business-economy-euro/economic-and-fiscal-policy-coordination/european-semester/framework/european-semester-explained_en
The EU Child Guarantee https://commission.europa.eu/strategy-and-policy/policies/justice-and-fundamental-rights/rights-child/eu-strategy-rights-child-and-european-child-guarantee_en#european-child-guarantee
EU Care Strategy on access to affordable high-quality long-term care: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_22_5169
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