Advocacy is about speaking up for children and young people and helping them take part in decisions that affect their lives. It involves making sure their rights are respected, and their views and wishes are heard and acted upon by decision-makers.
We believe that all disabled children should have the opportunity to use an advocacy service. For children placed away from home there is an even greater need for advocacy.
In addition to a handful of tools and information, we have created a handful of reports that look in detail at various aspects of advocacy
- The value of independent advocacy for looked after children
- Someone on our side - new research on advocacy for disabled children
- A guide for commissioners
The value of independent advocacy for looked after children and young people (full text, summary, press release), looks at the value of independent advocacy services for children and young people in care. The report is based on our review of 142 advocacy cases, learning from our practice and external research on this subject.
The report presents the breakdown of issues that children in care most often require advocacy help with.
Through individual case studies, the report demonstrates how advocacy:
- contributes to finding positive solutions
- improves confidence and esteem of children and young people
- helps young people develop skills they need to move to independence
- contributes to finding positive solutions for issues raised by children.
The report also presents financial analysis of the average cost of advocacy and demonstrates that advocacy is a cost-effective service.
Our report on advocacy for disabled children, Someone on our side (full report, summary) is the outcome of a three year study exploring advocacy services for disabled children and young people in England. This study found that many report the benefits of having an advocate for disabled young people and their families but that there are still considerable barriers preventing access to advocacy services.
We also have a guide for commissioners on the importance of advocacy services for all children.
The guide sets out the legal framework for the provision of advocacy to children and young people and the benefits of a good advocacy service. We are urging local authorities to ensure that access to advocacy is available for disabled children whether they live at home or in residential care.
We are working to ensure that all disabled children – including those who communicate without speech – have someone to listen to their needs, understand them, speak up on their behalf and ensure they are heard.
- We have services working with disabled children and young people, most of which have specialist advocates working with disabled children and young people looked after by local authorities.
- We campaign for Government and society to recognise that all disabled children have a right to be heard and do not suffer injustice in silence. Read our policy briefing documents for further information: Policy briefing number 1 - December 2006; Policy briefing number 2 - Autumn 2007.