Aims and objectives criteria
The aims and objectives are to ensure that the rights and views of children and young people who come into contact with the Children’s Hearings System in Scotland are taken into account in decision making by:
- supporting children and young people to participate in decisions that affect their lives
- providing children and young people with relevant information regarding their rights
- helping these children and young people resolve any concerns or complaints they may have regarding the care or service they receive
- ensuring children and young people still in contact with the advocacy provision (or not) to continually inform the development and improvement of the provision to meet their advocacy needs
- empowering children and young people who need a stronger voice by enabling them to express their own needs and make their own decisions
- enabling children and young people to obtain information, explore and understand their options and make their views and wishes known
- speaking on behalf of children and young people who are unable to do so for themselves
The broader aims of the Scottish Government managing advocacy support under the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 arrangements to be delivered by a number of organisations and to provide pan-Scotland coverage are to:
- focus on early intervention, to increase children and young people’s access to advocacy support prior to their Children’s Hearing and improve their experience of, and participation in, their hearings
- assist the decision making of panel members in hearings, through clearer understanding of the child or young person’s views, wishes, questions and concerns
- complement existing local advocacy provision for children and young people, enhancing local capacity to meet the requirements of section 122 of the Act to ensure fairness to small and local organisations already providing advocacy provision to support other areas of a child/young person’s lives
- consistency of quality and of oversight via delivery of the National Practice Model
- ensure a single point of support and management accountable to the Scottish Ministers but not intruding on the autonomy of advocacy workers or providers
Advocacy will be provided at the earliest possible point following the Reporter’s initial decision to convene a hearing. This would usually be in advance of the Children’s Hearing or Pre-Hearing Panel.
Advocacy provision may include any of the following requirements. Please note that this list is not exhaustive, and shall not be exclusive to the following:
- providing information to the child/young person about advocacy, their rights and options
- confirming and supporting the child/young person’s understanding of the Children’s Hearings process as it affects their situation, including the courts where applicable
- providing information to those involved in the care of the child/young person about the advocacy provision
- communicating with the child/young person referred and their family, guardians, friends, carers and others to establish the scope and nature of the child/young person’s needs
- communicating with the child/young person in a way appropriate to their age and stage of development, to ascertain their individual views, wishes, questions and concerns
- supporting the child/young person to speak up themselves, or speaking on their behalf with their permission, if the child does not wish to, or is unable, to do so themselves
- negotiating on behalf of the child/young person with others to address issues of concern
The advocacy provision shall assist the child or young person to obtain legal advice or legal representation if necessary or where requested to do so. If the child already has their own legal representation and/or safeguarder, the advocacy worker will be required to liaise with them to ensure a clear, cogent offer is made to the child/young person and that the respective responsibilities of the practitioners appointed to the child/young person are clearly explained to them.
We expect advocacy provider organisations to have processes in place to liaise effectively with local authority staff, social workers, Children’s Hearings Scotland, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) and other interested parties in the local authority area or at a national level. Our preference is that notification will come to SCRA from the child or young person’s social worker indicating that the child or young person is content to be contacted about advocacy. The advocacy provider will then be able to make contact with the child/young person who may or may not wish to take up the offer of advocacy. This is clearly preferable to general awareness-raising materials about advocacy being contained with a child or young person’s hearings papers from SCRA.
Organisations should consider carefully who they may need to speak to when preparing their expression of interest template outlining their proposed processes for effective liaison.
To discuss any part of this grant application you can contact the Children’s Hearings Advocacy Team: