Advocacy and Independent Visitors
AMENDMENTThis chapter was amended in August 2011 in regard to the child having access to independent advice and information on how to contact the Children's Right Director and Section 2.1, When to Appoint was amended in regard to when an independent visitor should be appointed.
All children should have access to independent advice, from an independent advocate and should be provided with information about how to contact the Children's Rights Director.
An appointment of an Advocate for a Child Looked After is appropriate where a child wishes to be represented at a meeting (for example a Looked After Review) or assisted in making a complaint or bringing a matter to the attention of the care provider, the local authority or OFSTED.
Information must be provided to all Children Looked After about how they can gain access to a suitably skilled advocate by giving the names of independent organisations to the child, for example the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS). The National Youth Advocacy Service can be contacted on:
Tel: 0151 649 8700
Or by writing to NYAS at:
Young people may also make use of a freephone line on 0800 616 101 or write to Freepost NYAS. This information should be included in the Children's Guide.
Assistance must also be given to enable an advocate to be appointed for the child for example by approaching the independent organisation of the child's choice for and on behalf of the child if requested to do so. All young people for whom Knowsley MBC are responsible should be made aware of the availability of advocacy services. This may be via their looked after review, by standard letter from the Social Work Team, or in discussion of specific issues especially where their wishes and feelings may not be in accordance with plans being made for them.
2. Independent Visitors
An appointment of an independent visitor for a Child Looked After must be made:
- Where it appears to be in the best interests of the child to make such an appointment.
A decision to appoint an independent visitor should be made by the child's allocated Social Worker/Team Manager will usually be made at a child's Looked After Review.
Where an appointment is considered necessary, the child's social worker will identify whether there is a person already known to the child and independent of the local authority who may be suitable.
Before the appointment is made, the proposed Independent Visitor must have been checked with the Disclosure and Barring Service, Local Children's Services Authority records, Probation and have the agreement of the Designated Manager (Children's Services Manager). The appointment must be confirmed in writing.
The child must be consulted about the appointment and if he or she objects, the appointment should not be made.
Where there are financial implications, the approval of the Designated Manager (Children's Services Manager) should be obtained before the appointment is finalised. The appointment must be confirmed in writing and may be terminated by the visitor or the local authority by written notice.
The independent visitor will have a duty to make regular visits to the child and maintain other contact, by telephone and letter as appropriate.
The main purpose of the visits and contacts will be to befriend the child and give advice and assistance as appropriate with the aim of promoting the child's development and social, emotional, educational, religious and cultural needs.
The independent visitor should also encourage the child to participate in decision-making.
The views of the independent visitor should be sought before each Care Planning Meeting and Looked After Review to which he or she should be invited if the child requests it.
The need to continue the appointment should be considered at the child's Looked After Reviews, and the child's wishes and feelings will be the main consideration in deciding the need for the continued appointment.