Advocacy for children – resources for practitioners
Advocacy is about speaking up for children and young people and helping them take part in decisions that affect their lives. It involves making sure their rights are respected, and their views and wishes are heard and acted upon by decision-makers.
There is a growing recognition of the importance of advocacy for children and young people when plans are being made for their lives.
Appreciating the views and feelings of the young person helps them feel involved and can help everyone make better decisions. Working like this is not just good practice, it is also a legal requirement.
The Children Act says young people must be treated with respect and this means (amongst other things) that young people must be listened to.
If a local authority is deciding what should happen to a child or young person they have to find out how they feel and what they want. They have to tell the child or young person what is happening and why.
All disabled children should have the opportunity to use an advocacy service. For children placed away from home there is an even greater need for advocacy.
The Children’s Society have produced useful tools and information for practiopners and also a number of reports that look in detail at various aspects of advocacy:
- The value of independent advocacy for looked after children
- Someone on our side – new research on advocacy for disabled children
- A guide for commissioners.
These can be found on their website at www.childrenssociety.org.uk/independent-advocacy
See also our voice of the child resource.
Manchester’s Children’s Rights service
In Manchester the local authority children’s services has commissioned the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) to deliver its Children’s Rights Service as of 1 May 2018.
NYAS is a rights based charity which operates across England and Wales for children, young people and adults. In Manchester NYAS will be delivering advocacy and independent visiting services to our children and young people.
Advocates help to ensure the voice of children and young people is heard when professionals make decisions about them or if they want something ‘Stop, Started or Changed’. Going forward all children and young people who become subject to a Child Protection Plan will be offered an advocate.
NYAS will also recruit and train volunteers across Manchester to become Independent Visitors – to find out more about becoming an Independent Visitor visit www.nyas.net/services/independent-visitors/
If you know a child or young person who may want support from an Advocate or an Independent Visitor you can call the NYAS helpline on 0808 808 1001 or visit the NYAS website www.nyas.net
If the young person you are working with would like more information about NYAS or would like to get involved you can visits NYAS young people’s website youngpeople.nyas.net.
You can also download the NYAS app to your mobile device from the app store or google play.
If a child aged 11 or older is made the subject of a Child Protection Plan, it will be mandatory for the child to be referred to Coram Voice who will then contact the family to discuss the services they can offer to the child and their role in the child protection process. The parents will then be able to make an informed choice as to whether an advocate would benefit their child.