I have a voice.
Your rights should be heard!
Young people need help talking.
These are the words of just some of the care experienced young people from across Scotland who were asked to provide feedback on their feelings about Advocacy in the Children’s Hearings System. The Scottish Government’s purpose and vision sets out the kind of Scotland it aims to create, and the national outcome to help achieve its purpose is “that people grow up loved, safe and respected so that they realise their full potential”. In order to achieve this challenge, they are working across sectors, services and organisations to implement new policies and improve outcomes, all underpinned by Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC). The Scottish Government and the First Minister have committed to listening to the voices of those who are impacted most deeply by these policies and services: the children and young people themselves.
As part of this work, the Scottish Government has been working with partners to develop a sustainable model of Advocacy in the Children’s Hearings System since its modernisation in 2013. This work includes action research and projects delivered by Barnardo’s, Who Cares? Scotland, Your Voice, Inspiring Scotland and Griesbach & Associates.
This document outlines the National Practice Model for Advocacy for the Children’s Hearings System. The development of the model was commissioned by the Scottish Government in order to develop a sustainable model of advocacy to realise the policy intention of Section 122 of the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011.
Specifically, the National Practice Model outlines the role of advocacy workers within the Children’s Hearings System including their independent status and requirement for: strong understanding of childhood experience and commitment to children’s rights; solid knowledge base of policy and legislation related to children and young people; working knowledge of procedures related to Children’s Hearings; expertise in advocacy practice; and skills in working with children and young people, to ensure consistent excellence of practice and delivery of advocacy within the Children’s Hearings System across Scotland.
As demand for advocacy is on the rise, the model needs to:
1. Fulfil the obligations of Section 122.
2. Be cost-effective.
3. Be responsive to the changing policy landscape.
Long-term, it is expected the model will also provide added value beyond the existing supports such as legal representation, Safeguarders, independent reports and other ongoing strategic work through the ‘Better Hearings’ action plan.