Future of children and young people’s advocacy: online workshops 2022

  • 30 August 2022, 5pm-6.30pm (Zoom) – PLACES STILL AVAILABLE
  • 1 September 2022, 5pm-6.30pm (Zoom) – PLACES STILL AVAILABLE
  • 5 September 2022, 5pm-6.30pm (Zoom) – PLACES STILL AVAILABLE
  • 7 September 2022, 5pm-6.30pm (Zoom) – PLACES STILL AVAILABLE
  • 15 September 2022, 5pm-6.30pm (Zoom) – PLACES STILL AVAILABLE
  • 19 September 2022, 5pm-6.30pm (Zoom) – PLACES STILL AVAILABLE
  • 27 September 2022, 5pm-6.30pm (Zoom) – PLACES STILL AVAILABLE

**PLEASE JOIN US TO DISCUSS THE FUTURE OF ADVOCACY**

Advocates4U is a national campaign to strengthen children and young people’s advocacy services in England. It is run by Article 39, Coram Voice, the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers and the National Youth Advocacy Service, with help from Jenny Clifton, an expert in children and young people’s advocacy services. The campaign was named by two members of Sheffield‘s Children in Care Council, Heather and Megan, who won our national competition. 

In 2021, we held online workshops to hear the views of young people and advocates about how advocacy services in England could be organised and paid for. We want to make sure every child and young person who needs an advocate can have one, and that everyone receives the best possible help.

We have been waiting for the final report of the children’s social care review before moving to the next phase of our discussions. The review published its final report in May 2022. It made recommendations about children and young people‘s advocacy services, which we are very keen to discuss with young people and advocates. 

Across August and September 2022, we are holding 8 online workshops (via Zoom) where young people and advocates working in children and young people’s advocacy services in England can come together to discuss the future of advocacy.

**These workshops are open to members of our Children and Young People’s Advocates Network, and young people who are part of their advocacy and children’s rights services. Every young person taking part will be offered a certificate and a £20 gift voucher as a mark of thanks for their contribution.**

After this second run of workshops, we will organise a coming-together event to reflect on what we have heard across all of the workshops. A small number of young people and advocates from each of the workshops held in 2021 and 2022 will be invited to take part in this. We are hoping civil servants from the Department for Education who lead on children and young people’s advocacy will join us at this important event. 

You can read about our 2021 online workshops here.

Please book your places at our online workshops using the online form below. As before, we ask that at least one young person and at least one advocate attends from each advocacy or children’s rights service. A short discussion paper will be circulated ahead of each workshop.

We look forward to you joining us, and sharing your expertise – thank you.

Online workshop booking form

We ask that no more than 3 young people and 3 advocates from a single advocacy or children’s rights service attend each online workshop (so 6 from the same service overall at each event).

Please feel free to book places on different dates, if more than 6 people from your service want to take part.

PLEASE NOTE: these events are for members of Article 39’s Children and Young People’s Advocates Network, and young people who are part of their services. All members work directly with children and young people in England.

Please indicate below where your advocacy with children and young people mostly takes place:

Children‘s social care review – what the review says about children and young people’s advocacy

Article 39 has prepared this list from reading the main review report and accompanying documents.

1. Advocacy services for children and young people in care should be run separately from local authorities.
2. Local authorities should continue to pay for these advocacy services.
3. Advocacy for children and young people in care should be organised as an opt-out service, which would mean children and young people are contacted by an advocate rather than them having to find an advocate themselves.
4. Advocates should be able to build long-lasting positive relationships with children and young people in care. 
5. Children and young people should be given the right to request their advocate attends court in any proceedings affecting them (it is not clear whether this relates only to children and young people in care, and only to proceedings relating to children’s care and protection – are proceedings in the criminal courts included, for example?). 
6. Children and young people should be able to receive help from an independent advocate when family group decision-making happens. This is where social workers have discussions with different members of families, including the child or young person, to see if it is possible for a child or young person to stay living with their family – with their parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles or older sisters and brothers, for example. The review says these meetings could also take place to help a child or young person return to live with their family from care, when this is possible.
7. The Children‘s Commissioner should have responsibility for choosing who runs advocacy services for children and young people in care. 
8. The Children‘s Commissioner could also have responsibility for running advocacy services for children and young people in care. Other options are a new (national) organisation or Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service).[1]
9. The Children‘s Commissioner should have the power to go to court to protect the rights of individual children and young people.[2]
10. The Children‘s Commissioner should write a report every year which describes the main things advocacy services have been working on. This is to help local authorities improve.
11. The national standards for children and young people‘s advocacy services should be revised.[3] (The review also states Ofsted should develop an inspection framework for advocacy, which presumably would be based on these standards).
12. After the advocacy standards have been updated, a Knowledge and Skills Statement for advocates should be developed. The review states the following should be involved in developing this Statement – care experienced children and adults, the What Works Centre for Children‘s Social Care, the Children’s Commissioner, Cafcass and local authorities. (Mental health first aid training is specifically mentioned as being necessary for advocates and other professionals working with children and young people).  
13. There should be an Apprenticeship Standard in Children’s Advocacy.
14. Advocates should take on parts of the job of independent reviewing officers. The review recommends that the law is changed so that children and young people in care no longer have an independent reviewing officer. The review recommends that no significant decision about a child or young person should be made at their review meeting without input from an advocate, unless the child or young person decides against this.
15. Advocates should take on the job of independent people who visit children‘s homes at least once a month to check the welfare of children and young people who live there.[4] The review recommends that the law is changed so that the independent people who currently do this job are no longer required. 
The review estimates that over a period of 10 years, starting from 1st April 2023, £8 million can be saved in the cost of advocacy services for children and young people in care.[5] Its costings are based on an advocacy manager earning £60,000 per year and an advocate‘s salary being £30,000 each year, with an advocate working with 35 children and young people at any one time. The review estimates that one-third of the workload of advocates will be connected to helping children and young people in care make complaints. The review calculates that around 1 in 3 children and young people in care will choose to have an advocate (after they have been offered one), and that 95% of children and young people whose care and protection is being looked at by a family court will choose to have an advocate. 

[1] This is very similar to the options we looked at during our online workshops in 2021.

[2] Cafcass has this legal power in respect of children and young people in care, which it can use if an independent reviewing officer contacts the organisation with serious concerns about children’s rights. Cafcass’s power to take children and young people’s cases to court (including for human rights breaches) is set out in The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Reviewed Case Referral) Regulations 2004.

[3] After work by the Advocates4U campaign, in 2020 the government promised to run a public consultation on new standards and legal rules for advocacy. After this promise, young people had meetings with civil servants in the Department for Education during 2021 to help them have an even better understanding of the power and importance of advocacy.

[4] These are called Regulation 44 independent persons. Their duties are set out in Regulation 44 of The Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015

[5] The review also recommends new parent advocacy services, which it estimates will cost £62 million over 10 years.