Supporting disabled children, young people and their families: guidance

Guidance to help improve the experiences of disabled children, young people, and their families.


In this section you can find out…

What is an advocate?

Advocates do not make choices for children. Instead, they support children and young people to make their own informed choices.

What is advocacy?

The Scottish Government has published a guide to children’s advocacy which can be used by family members, friends, teachers, support workers and others who may at times advocate for a child.

Where can I go for advice or help?

The Scottish Independent Advocacy Alliance (SIAA) is funded by Scottish Government. It has the overall aim of ensuring that independent advocacy is available to any vulnerable person in Scotland.

Learn more about the rights of children in the section on Safety and Justice

What about making decisions?

A young person in Scotland legally becomes an adult at 16. The law in Scotland generally assumes that adults are capable of making personal decisions for themselves and of managing their own affairs. However, some people may be unable to do this, or may need some extra support because of their disability.

The Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 sets out a number of different ways (called provisions) to allow others to act for, or make decisions for, an adult who is unable to do these things for themselves in relation to their:

  • Financial Affairs
  • Health
  • Personal Welfare

Parts of this Act can be used to meet the needs of the person and include Guardianship. To learn more about the Act, you can have a look at the Scottish Government’s short guide. This guide also contains a list of organisations who can provide support or help you to understand the Act.

Decision making information for parents and carers

If you care for a child or young person who does not have capacity, you might want to think about applying for a provision under the Act. The Scottish Government has also produced a guide to help carers understand more about the Act, the kinds of powers they might need to apply for and how to apply for them.

If you are unsure about the needs of the young person or if the Act can help, you should contact your local social work department. Under the Act, the Local Authority has a duty to assess the needs of anyone who may lack capacity due to a mental disorder or severe communication difficulty caused by a physical condition.

Kindred provides practical information, advocacy, emotional support and guidance.

Tom and Laura's story

Read Tom and Laura's story on the Fairer Scotland blog.  

More Information?

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland’s website has a helpful section about the Act. Further information is available on the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland website.


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