‘Are young carers less engaged in school than non-carers? Evidence from a representative australian study

Author(s): Myra Hamilton & Gerry Redmond
Publisher: Child Indicators Research
Year Published: 2020
Resource type: Peer Reviewed Research Article


Past research suggested that young carers are less likely to complete high school and are less
likely to aspire to go to university. They also report difficulties with completing school work and might be overall less engaged in school. The role of social support in school is still unclear but could be a protective factor for engagement. In other words, those who have more social support and friendships at school might be more engaged overall. However, the majority of the studies are qualitative and there is still lack of knowledge around young carers’ engagement at school in comparison to non-carers. Therefore, this study aimed to fill in this gap by examining whether school engagement different in young carers caring for family members with disabilities and young carers who care for those with mental illness or those using alcohol/drugs and non-carers. They also wanted to find out whether belonging to a marginalized group impacted engagement even more. They analyzed a national school-based Australian survey with children aged 8-14 years. The authors found that 9% identified as young carers (N = 465 of the 5220 students overall). Results of the survey revealed that there was no differences in support from teachers or best friend in any of the groups. Young carers were more likely to also identify as a marginalized group. Overall, school engagement was lower for young carers who cared for those with mental illness or those using alcohol/drugs. They were also 30% less likely to engage with homework. Finally, young carers who identify themselves as a marginalized group, who themselves had a disability, had even lower school engagement. The authors discuss how these results can shape policy and service provisions at schools to support young carers.

Citation: Hamilton, M. & Redmond, G. (2020). Are Young Carers Less Engaged in School than
Non-Carers? Evidence from a Representative Australian Study. Child Indicators Research, 13,
33-49. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-019-09647-1

Keywords: Young carer, School engagement, School outcomes, Mental illness, Marginalisation

Where the data was collected: Australia