We have been working with partners to develop a sustainable model of advocacy to deliver on Section 122 of the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (‘the 2011 Act’).
Children’s advocacy provision is to be based on the 2011 Act’s definition. Children’s advocacy is about supporting a child to express their own needs and views, helping them to play their part in child-centred discussions and informed decisions on matters which influence their lives.
Advocacy workers do not advance their own views or those of their employer. Advocacy workers do not make choices for children – instead, they support children and young people to make their own choices.
Advocacy will initially be provided for children and young people aged from five years up to the age of 18 who are referred at any time to a Children’s Hearing or who are already subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order.
Advocacy is for the purpose of ensuring that children and young people are supported to allow their views to be expressed within a Children’s Hearing, Pre-Hearing Panel or connected court proceeding.
Advocacy is currently provided, in some local authority areas, to children and young people who are variously subject to child protection measures, looked after and accommodated, or requiring support with Additional Support Needs Tribunals or for mental health issues.
The current level of provision, and the terms under which it is provided, vary across each local authority. Existing investment and contracted provision is targeted based on the identified priorities of each local authority or health board and is subject to referral criteria which limits the provision to targeted groups of children and young people.
Where a child or young person is already engaged with a local advocacy worker, and their preference would be for that same individual advocacy worker to provide them with support before, during and after their involvement with the Children’s Hearings System, this should be supported to maximise continuity of relationships and avoiding a situation of multiple different advocacy workers being allocated to a child wherever possible.
This will be subject to a proportionate check by us that the provider and worker are aware of, and are prepared to adhere to, the National Practice Model for Children’s Hearings Advocacy.
Existing investment Scotland-wide is estimated to be less than £2.5 million for all advocacy provision for children and young people based on information available from the Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance and other sources.
To discuss any part of this grant application you can contact the Children’s Hearings Advocacy Team: