National Network of Parent Carer Forums

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Returning to Work after Time out for Caring

October 25, 2017

The NNPCF has responded to a Government consultation on ‘Returning to Work after Time out for Caring‘.

In the Spring Budget 2017, the Government committed “to promoting returnships to the public and private sector, helping people back into employment after a career break.” This commitment focusses on supporting returners, who are defined as those that have taken time out of paid employment to care for children or other family members.

Following this commitment, they wanted to know more about returners’ experiences, employers’ experiences of recruiting returners, and evidence on the barriers they face and support available to them.

It is really important to recognise the change in the parent carer’s standing in wider society, e.g. friends and acquaintances not knowing how to react when a person has a disabled child, the financial impact of a parent having to have time off work to care for a child and attend appointments.

Parent Carers are not recognised as carers, because they are seen as parents, or they have to fight hard to be part of Carers Groups who, often commissioned by CCGs, tend to recognise only carers of adults as carers. The overall sense is that a local focus on the Care Act leaves Parent Carers out as they are seen as parents and the legal rights in the CFA and other legislation are either not being shared or are not understood by commissioners and others in local areas. Sometimes Parent Carers are told their assessment is part of that for their children and young person’s social care assessment. Most Parent Carers do not know about the legal frameworks and what they mean.

Families with disabled children often find it difficult to access childcare. There are many reasons for this: they may not be able to find a childcare provider to suit their child’s specific needs, many childcare settings are not inclusive and many don’t offer childcare at times that are suitable. In May 2014, Contact A Family carried out research with families of disabled children. This research showed that 92% of families reported that finding childcare for their disabled child is more difficult compared to their non-disabled children.

Parents of children with special educational needs or disabilities struggle to access universal childcare for their son or daughter, due to lack of quality and affordable childcare. In addition, often childcare is required up to the age of 18 when the young person will be assessed for adult social care support.

The threshold for adult social care is extremely high and the ‘offer’ of support/activities for young people below this threshold is variable at best and at worst non existent. Parent carers are often given incorrect or mixed messages regarding their rights under the Care Act and this is a key barrier to returning to work.

To read a full version of the NNPCF response please click here.