Skip to navigation

Fact sheet

Transition to adulthood

The transition to adulthood is becoming increasingly complex and difficult and this is compounded for disadvantaged young people such as young adult carers. The 2001 census identified that there are 230,000 young adult carers, defined as young adults aged 18-24 who provide unpaid family care. In addition, there are 61,000 16 and 17 year olds who are on the cusp of moving from being 'young carers' to 'young adult carers'.

The move into adulthood for young carers is very likely to be hampered by lack of qualifications, limited social skills and continuing caring responsibilities, making entry into the labour market difficult.

Indeed, this is supported by research in this area by Chris Dearden & Saul Becker, looking at the affects of caring during childhood as young people move into adulthood:

Growing up caring: Vulnerability and transition to adulthood – young carers’ experiences

The researchers concluded that children and young people who adopt inappropriate caring responsibilities can be affected not only during childhood, but also as they become adults when they are considering work choices, further education, leaving home and becoming fully independent. Not all 18-24 year old young carers have necessarily spent their childhoods caring, and reaching these young people is an even greater challenge.

A recent report by the Social Exclusion Unit highlighted that services are usually age related and are often either for children or for adults:

Reaching Out: An Action Plan on Social Exclusion

There are few services that enable a smooth transition from youth services to adult services. Few young adult carers feel comfortable in accessing services for adults or for children because their needs differ from those of younger and adult carers, due to the transition stage of their lives.

Issues repeatedly mentioned by young carers are the problem of moving away to study and worrying about leaving the cared for person, the need to be able to get back quickly if required at home, interrupted study if trying to work at home and a lack of awareness and understanding by further education and higher education institutions of the problems of young adult carers.

In terms of the type of support needed, the young people consulted talked about the need for awareness, understanding and advice about the crucial issues at this stage of life – careers, education, housing, budgeting and most importantly, support from people who understood their situation.

For more information about work which is taking place around young adult carers, see the documents below.

Islington Young Adult Carers Group have produced a progress report and evaluation of the project, published in 2007:

Islington Young Adult Carers: progress report (509 KB)

Selby and York Carers Centre produced a report in 2003 into the needs of Young Adult Carers - "I grew out of the service but not the support":

Report into the needs of Young Adult Carers (136 KB)

If you encounter any difficulties in viewing PDF documents available on this page, please see: Help accessing PDF files

This website is sponsored by Legal & General