The Children’s Commissioner for England has released a new report - Advocacy for Children - stating that a significant group of children are being denied access to advocacy despite having a statutory entitlement to it. In some local authorities, fewer than 75% of care leavers’ referrals for advocacy are being taken forward.
This report follows previous studies commissioned by the Children’s Commissioner and other recent research into advocacy. This work builds on research by the Children’s Commissioner in 2016, which also explored the provision of advocacy across England and found substantial variation across local authorities, with spend per child or young person ranging from £2 to £668 each year.
This report intends both to take stock of advocacy provided by local authorities three years on and to highlight ongoing issues observed by the Children’s Commissioner’s Help at Hand service, which provides advice and help to children in care. This research is not a complete review of advocacy provision in England, rather it is intended to contribute to ongoing work to promote support for effective advocacy and to ensure that children and young people receive a good service wherever they are. While many people can act as a child’s advocate by helping them to have their voice heard, this report focuses on independent, professional advocacy, to which children and young people are entitled by law and statutory guidance.
The report makes several key recommendations. First and foremost, local authorities should be required to set out a clear strategy for a local offer for all children eligible to advocacy, showing how advocacy will be delivered and should work towards a highly visible universal advocacy service for children and young people up to the age of 25.
Read the full report here.