Using Adverse Childhood Experience scores to better understand the needs of young carers

Trevor Spratt, Marlene McGibbon, Gavin Davidson

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We report results of research into the experiences of young carers in Barnardo’s Young Carers and Action for Children Young Carers projects. The study involved in-depth interviews with young carers, with the aim of better understanding, from their perspective, the impact of caring on their lives. We employed the 10-item Adverse Childhood Experiences questionnaire in secondary analysis of the data. Results reveal that numbers of ACEs range from 0 to 6, with only 4 children out of 22 having a score of zero. The subgroup (16) with a parent with a mental illness had a mean ACE score of 2.375. Further dividing this group into those with additional ACEs (10) and those with one (6), offered a mean of 3.2 for the first group and 1 for the latter. By contrast, the mean for the group (6) caring for those with physical disability/illness was 0.5. Actual ACE scores are likely to be higher. These results merit further research involving larger numbers. Implications for practitioners and policy makers include screening for ACEs in assessments and development of bespoke services to meet the needs of those with high ACE scores, in this case, young carers with a parent with a mental illness.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Publication statusPublished - 05 Mar 2018


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