Large numbers of Oxford children, some as young as five, are
forced to care for their alcoholic and drugabusing parents,
according to figures recently released by Oxfordshire County
Council. The shocking statistics suggest that about 4,000 children
between the ages of five and 19 are looking after adults
classified as suffering from ‘mental health or substance
misuse problems.’ Furthermore, the work of these children is neither
acknowledged nor classified by the authorities, since they are
not included in the estimates of those with relatives who are
diagnosed with physical and mental illness or disability.
Officially, there are 54,435 unpaid carers in Oxfordshire, while
1,300 of those are young people. This figure, however, does not
take into account children with alcoholic or drug-addicted
parents. The estimate of 4,000 children acting as carers for
their parents was provided by the Social Services for the
district. Caring for disabled parents within the family saves the
state millions of pounds each year. In an attempt to ameliorate the situation, an officer has been
appointed for the support of children who find themselves in this
predicament.ARCHIVE: 6th week TT 2004