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.
What are the rules currently on children being entitled to advocacy. Do they have to be a certain age?
Are the LA obliged to inform children in their care that they are entitled to an advocate?
I confess I don’t know. I would assume that its not about age, its about understanding. And from what care leavers say, they aren’t told.
.. I ask because a woman was told she could not bring her youngest to contact, with his four brothers and sisters, and was told – she says untruthfully – that the siblings did not want to see their youngest at contact. She claims the opposite is the case. They won’t negotiate with her, and say if she continues to bring the youngest they will stop contacts. I thought that if it is the case that the other children want to see their young brother, they could make the request themselves via an advocate. … but if there is no obligation to, then I’m sure Social Care won’t tell her children – for all their fine and visionary pamphlets and speeches about empowerment.
They can make the request through a lawyer that they can instruct themselves if Gillick competent. But I appreciate practical difficulties if other adults putting up barriers. I would make specific request to IRO. This is clear Article 8 issue.
All children in care are entitled to independent advocacy support. It is not related to age or understanding. Children with disabilities are particularly vulnerable and can still use the support from idependent advocacy. Find out if there is a providor in your area, or if there is a childrens rights officer at your Local Authority. Call their IRO and say that you want them to be offered independent advocacy so that they can give their clear views about contact. However, be prepared to hear that your children do NOT in fact want youngest child to attend contact and this must be respected by you. Contact should be in the best interest if all the children involved. Perhaps there needs to be a discussion with social worker about why contact is problematic and what can be done to promote and improve relationship between the siblings.
Thanks, that’s useful information.
Thanks for the clarification. I have passed your message on to the mother.