DCG was assessed by Nottingham-based The Carers Federation and will hold the quality standard for three years alongside a pledge to further develop the support available to students.
There are currently 96 students aged 16 to 19 who are identified as young carers – defined as a young person who is helping to look after someone who could not cope without their support.
Most are caring for a parent but some may be taking responsibility for a sibling, grandparent or for more than one family member with a range of needs including physical or learning disability, mental health problem, chronic illness or substance misuse problem.
Following a thorough audit of DCG’s support programme for young carers, key areas of DCG’s support programme were highlighted as good practice:
- The student support ECO system which provides information and signposting for students and staff
- Interactive and creative induction process
- Comprehensive staff training resources and developments
- Introduction of the Young Carer card, developed alongside a student carer, to enable access to additional resources and support
The report also highlights the training available to teaching and support staff across the college; relationships with feeder schools and local authority carers teams; processes in place to identify issues through attendance and progress monitoring.
DCG Head of Student Experience and Pastoral Support Aaron Denton said: “We are obviously delighted that the work we have already undertaken to better support young carers amongst our student body has been recognised with this prestigious quality standard.
“We have embedded an inclusive and positive ‘social belonging’ support programme for young carers across the organisation.
“This ranges from regularly checking in with students to discuss issues they are facing to incorporating flexibility in their study programmes such as having the resources to be able to study at home and condensed timetables.”
DCG Student Experience and Pastoral Lead Siobhan Benton added: “As part of the accreditation process, we have been able to discuss our future plans and gain valuable feedback from The Carers Federation which will enable us to expand further the range of support available to this cohort of students and ensure that all young carers can achieve their goals in a supportive environment.”
Future plans include involving the wider families in the support network and developing personalised work experience programmes which build on specific skills that young carers have developed.