Qualifications, Skills and Training
Qualifications, skills and training are key elements in ensuring advocacy is meaningful, empowering and ultimately successful.
In the Scottish context, there are currently two formal qualifications which explore advocacy: Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) qualification for Panel Members and Reach Advocacy.
SQA qualification for Panel Members, comprising a number of existing SQA modules from this award and others, could be brought together to create a new qualification along the lines of "Advocacy in the Children’s Hearings System." In the short term it seems there is enough existing content and modules to create a meaningful qualification which could be improved over time to reflect the learnings from the implementation of the National Practice Model.
Reach Advocacy (Coatbridge) provides advocacy around recovery, addiction and mental health. The provider is an accredited training centre with funding from Big Lottery and has already developed a SQA-approved qualification in advocacy at SCQF Level 7. As Reach Advocacy is actively looking for partners this could be an option for the advocacy provider to consider.
The two formal qualifications could be considered separately or in tandem to provide a comprehensive formal training package for advocacy workers working in the Children’s Hearings System. While the SQA package provides a good understanding of the Children’s Hearings System, the Reach Advocacy model could be further adapted and developed to provide a more tailored formal advocacy qualification.
Additionally, the content of a new qualification could be further enhanced by incorporating learnings from Level 3 Certificate in Advocacy in Northern Ireland. While the qualification is rooted in a different social care and legal setting, it provides transferrable skills and knowledge in independent advocacy management and independent advocacy with children and young people.
In addition to formal qualifications, advocacy providers should consider embedding the Common Core in provision of advocacy in the Children’s Hearings System as “from the perspective of children, young people and their families, the Common Core describes what is fundamentally important to them, no matter what service they are using or their own circumstances or backgrounds. From the perspective of workers the Common Core describes the fundamentals that every worker should demonstrate and contains the basics needed to build positive relationships and promote children’s rights”.
The final Common Core focuses on the two following areas which are supported by the guiding principles of the UNCRC:
1. Skills, knowledge and understanding and values
2. Essential Characteristics of those who work with children, young people and families in Scotland (relationships with children young people and their families; relationships between workers).
The Common Core would be threaded through advocacy training with suggested areas for core training for the advocacy provider to deliver on a rolling basis. The advocacy provider would align training opportunities to the advocacy worker’s personal development plan and commitment to individual learning.
The below topics should be considered by the advocacy provider to provide a comprehensive training package linked directly to personal development.
Understanding Children’s Hearings
- Understanding the process of Children’s Hearings.
- The role of the independent advocacy worker in Children’s Hearings.
- Secure Orders – understanding this process.
- Understanding what advocacy is.
- Considering the roles, processes, ethics and principles of advocacy.
- Exploring the cornerstones of advocacy: child-led, independence, confidentiality and equality of access.
- GIRFEC and advocacy – ensuring the child remains at the centre.
- The rights of children, young people and vulnerable adults.
- Practical challenges and dilemmas.
Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC)
- Understanding the role of the advocacy worker/the appropriate adult in the age assessment process.
- Ensuring the child is at the center.
- Focusing on relevant legislation, legal aspects and protocols including age assessments and disputes and Home Office decisions.
- Exploring the journey of the child before arriving in the UK and the impact of trauma.
- Considering the different terminologies used to refer to UASC.
Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults
- Exploration of relevant legislation.
- Discussions around why inter-agency working is so important, including exploration of the different roles and responsibilities of different services.
- Consideration about when it is appropriate to share information and with whom.
- Knowing what to do if you have a serious safeguarding concern about a child, young person or vulnerable adult.
- GIRFEC and its role in safeguarding children and young people.
The Role of the Independent Person in Secure Accommodation
- Understanding the nature and purpose of the secure accommodation.
- Looking at the legislation, guidance and best practice around secure accommodation.
- Exploring processes and procedures.
- Considering the roles carried out by other professional’s panel members.
- Thinking about children’s rights in relation to secure accommodation hearings.
Data Protection and Information Security
- Understanding why it is so important to protect data and keep information secure.
- Looking at relevant legislation such as the Data Protection Act.
- Considering how data protection and information security affect you in your working.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
- Developing an understanding of the legal framework around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace.
- Creating and promoting a culture where differences are valued and any threats, challenged.
- Considering what unconscious bias is and why this is relevant in the workplace.
- Understanding your own role with regard to challenging inappropriate behaviors and the impact you can have on changing the culture within your workplace.
Other Training Options to consider:
Training for Independent Advocacy workers
- The principals of Advocacy
- The role of the Advocacy worker
- Communication of the Advocacy worker
- Understand equality, diversity and inclusion
- Understand the importance of confidentiality and professional boundaries
- Understand Advocacy Standards
- Your Rights explained
- Understanding the Human Rights Act
- Understanding the Equality Act
- Understand different types of Advocacy
- How to work in Crisis
- How to support themselves and learn coping skills
Compliance training includes sessions that learners working with children and young people are expected to undertake as part of their working role, for example safeguarding, data protection and information security and equality, diversity and inclusion.
Practice based training
Practice based training includes sessions that learners can access to further their learning within the practice arena and from a practical perspective. Sessions will help the learners by informing their practice; such sessions may include the child protection process or residential visiting advocacy sessions.
Awareness training sessions focus on particular pieces of legislation, primarily new and updated legislation. Awareness training sessions can be tailored to develop the learning and understanding of a workforce with specific focus on legislation that’s important for care experienced young people attending Children’s Hearings in Scotland.