Identifying and supporting young carers in Sweden : School social worker’s perspectives
Sammanfattning: Research on young carers has been enriched over recent decades, but there are still many gaps to be explored. There is a lack of local research in many countries about the prevalence, identification, and interventions of young carers. Few studies have explored the experiences and perspectives of professionals in different fields. What roles professionals in different fields play in identifying and supporting young carers are yet to be understood. This study explores how the young carer is perceived, identified, and intervened in schools from the perspective of school social workers in the context of the Swedish child welfare and education system. Using an exploratory qualitative research approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted in Gothenburg, Sweden, to explore the experiences and perceptions of ten social workers working in compulsory and upper secondary schools in relation to identifying and intervening with young carers. The analysis of the interviews combined theories of child and childhood, as well as parentification, together with an extensive literature.The results firstly present the process of identifying young carers in the school, the variety of caring responsibilities and performance of young carers identified by school social workers. Then the findings show the perceptions of school social workers, including the views of how school social workers construct child’s caring role, the factors contribute to presence of young carers as well as the view of how young carers should be intervened. School social worker’s interventions for young carers are conducted in the school, family and between family and social services. There are some obstacles challenging the role of school social workers in identifying and supporting young carers. The last chapter discuss the above findings critically to highlight the strength and limitations of identifying young carers by school social workers, how “young carer” is constructed in a specific context, as well as important roles of school social workers play in the intervention for young carers. Then a conclusion summarizes the findings, followed by the implications and recommendations for future research.
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