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3.1.13 Protocol for Social Workers and other Professionals working with the Youth Advocacy Project

The following protocol has been agreed by the Head of Safeguarding and the Head of Children & Families.


Contents

  1. Individual Workers
  2. Managers

    Appendix 1: The Advocacy Services and Representations Procedure (Children) (Amendment) Regulations 2004 states:


1. Individual Workers

  1. Children and young people, particularly those in care, have a right to access advocacy services, (Appendix 1: The Advocacy Services and Representations Procedure (Children) (Amendment) Regulations 2004 states:);
  2. Advocates provide a totally independent service for children and young people. Advocates are not part of the multi-agency network that takes responsibility for the best interest of the child or young person;
  3. Social Workers and other professional are not at liberty to prevent a young person seeing or having access to an advocate. A child or young person can still have an advocate if they have a Guardian ad litem. The concern over the number of professional involved with a child or young person should not preclude the involvement of an advocate;
  4. Advocates can help young people make complaints or representations. A representation is defined thus:

    The act of conveying a child’s or young person’s view, to address aspects of service provision or decisions affecting them’’.
  1. If a young person requests an advocate or if there is a recommendation from a Child Protection Conference, Looked After Children review or other meeting for advocacy to be provided for the child/young person, the social worker or other professional will ensure that:
    1. A referral is made to YAP as soon as possible;

      or
    2. Young person is helped to contact our service directly.
  1. Professionals should recognise and promote the young persons right to an advocate. The use of advocacy and self-advocacy should be viewed as a positive action;
  2. Professionals should acknowledge the independence of the advocate, and the value of advocates as an independent resource. Advocates may be able to take up issues that other professionals cannot;
  3. Professionals have an obligation to respond as soon as possible to requests from advocates as they would any customer of the service;
  4. What is important to a young person might not be a priority for a worker e.g. a toy left at a previous placement, or personal items still at home after being moved into foster care. It is important to remember that these issues are extremely important to young people particularly at the time when they are experiencing anxiety and distress. Keeping an advocate or young person up to date with progress on their issue is vital;
  5. Advocates amplify the issues and concerns raised by children and young people and help them secure their rights and entitlements. They do not judge, give opinions, or influence young people but are there to help them communicate with the professionals and service providers around them;
  6. Advocates may challenge decisions and practice on behalf of young people;
  7. Advocates provide an ‘open’ service. No information we have or action we take is hidden from the young person. This is in line with the National Standards for the Provision of Advocacy Services to Children 2002. 


2. Managers

  1. Practice Managers and Service Manager should promote the use of advocates to their teams;
  2. It is recognised that occasionally there will be tensions and differences of opinion between advocates and professionals. Robust dialogue with the young person’s voice at the centre will hopefully ensure that better decisions and plans are made;
  3. Listening is not enough. Managers should be able to evidence action taken as a result of complaints and issued raised in their teams;
  4. The advocacy service will collect evidence of themes and issues and bring them to the attention of Senior Managers for discussion.

Who We Work With:

  • Children in Care Age 5-18;
  • Care Leavers up to age 21 (25 if in Education);
  • Children subject to Family Group Conference Service;
  • Young People up to 16 in Secure Accommodation;
  • Children with Disabilities receiving shared care;
  • Children and young people who are the subjects of safeguarding procedures;
  • Young Parents under 18 whose children are subject to safeguarding.

Where resources permit, advocacy support may be offered to:

  • Children with Disabilities going through Transition to Adult Services.


Appendix 1: The Advocacy Services and Representations Procedure (Children) (Amendment) Regulations 2004 states:

Information to be provided to a complainant etc.

4.
  1. Where a local authority receive representations from a complainant they must:
    1. Provide him with information about advocacy services; and
    2. Offer him help in obtaining an advocate.
  2. Where a local authority become aware that a person or child intends to make representations under section 24D or, as the case may be, section 26(3) they must:
    1. Provide the person or child with information about advocacy services; and
    2. Offer him help in obtaining an advocate.

The Advocacy Services and Representations Procedure (Children) (Amendment) Regulations 2004.

Working Together

Support, Advice and Advocacy to Children and Families

10.5 Children and families may be supported through their involvement in safeguarding processes by advice and advocacy services, and they should always be informed of services that exist locally and nationally. Independent advocates provide independent and confidential information, advice, representation and support, and can play a vital role in ensuring children have appropriate information and support to communicate their views.

Essential Safeguards

11.5

There are a number of essential safeguards that should be observed in all settings in which children live away from home, including children in care, private fostering, healthcare, boarding schools (including residential special schools), prisons, young offenders’ institutions, secure training centres and secure units, and when children are detained whilst within the immigration system. Detailed guidance and standards are in place for service providers in each of these sectors. Where services are not directly provided essential safeguards should be explicitly addressed in contracts with external providers. These safeguards should ensure that:

  • Children who live away from home are listened to, and their views and concerns responded to;
  • Children have ready access to a trusted adult outside the institution – for example, a family member, the child’s social worker, independent visitor or children’s advocate. Children should be made aware of the help they could receive from independent advocacy services, external mentors and ChildLine.

End