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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 July, 2005, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
Carers 'to be given a childhood'
Young carers
The council believes there could be 11,000 carers in Oxfordshire
Young carers have been promised the support they need to avoid falling victim to the stresses of looking after their family members.

Oxfordshire County Council has agreed a three-year strategy that will "help carers get their childhood back".

The council is also to look at setting up support groups for young carers in the county.

The 2001 census showed there were 1,343 young carers in Oxfordshire, but the figure could be nine times higher.

Backers say the key to the strategy is to identify the carers and offer them the counselling and attention they need before problems at home reach a "crisis point".

'Balanced life'

Councillor Louise Chapman, the council's representative for children and young people, said: "We want to give these children their childhood back.

"Caring can be a very positive and satisfying experience, but only when it doesn't get out of hand.

"We need to make sure they get support so they can achieve success at school and lead a more balanced life.

"The key is to make sure the needs of the whole family are assessed not just those of the person who is ill or has a disability."

The council says a study carried out in 2000 showed that 27% of all young carers in secondary school and 13% of those still in primary school experience problems with their education.

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