The National Children’s Bureau provided this analysis of the need for indpendent advocacy for children within the child protection system in 2013.
They concluded with recommendations for both Government and Local Authorities.
Recommendations for Government.
Use the opportunity of the Children and Families Bill 2013 to introduce a
statutory presumption that children are supported by an independent
advocate in initial and review child protection conferences, unless they
Update ‘Get it Sorted: Guidance on Providing Effective Advocacy
Services for Children and Young People making a Complaint under the
Children Act 1989’ to reflect the current policy and practice environment
and to specifically include the role of advocacy in the child protection
Commission a study of good practice models of independent advocacy in
child protection procedures to facilitate the sharing of practice across
Recommendations for Local Authorities
Local authorities should review their advocacy and child protection
conference services to:
Set in place a clear service level agreement for all stakeholders
following commissioning of independent advocacy regarding the role of
the advocate to ensure that children are supported before, during and
after child protection conferences on an ‘opt-out’ rather than ‘opt-in’
Ensure that advocacy and child protection conference processes are
child-centred and meet the needs of specific groups of children and
young people, such as disabled children and young people, those in
custody and those in out of area placements.
Ensure that they foster effective working relationships between social
workers and independent advocates.
Formalise a process regarding information sharing, setting out issues of
confidentiality and data protection.
Develop advocacy training programmes.
Conduct an annual report and evaluation of child protection advocacy
services, both quantitative and qualitative, from the perspective of all stakeholders including children and young people.
Provide opportunities for children and young people to participate in
decisions relating to the design and delivery of advocacy services.