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3.3.2 Advocacy and Independent Visitors

RELATED GUIDANCE

Advocacy Services for Children and Young People – A guide for Commissioners (The Children’s Society)

AMENDMENT

In August 2017, a link to Advocacy Services for Children and Young People was added above. This guide on advocacy makes clear the legislative requirements of local authorities with regards to providing advocacy support to children in need and looked after children.


Contents

1. Advocates
2. Independent Visitors
2.1 When to Appoint
2.2 Duties of Independent Visitor
2.3 Review of Appointment
2.4 Recording on ICS


1. Advocates

An appointment of an Advocate for a Looked After child 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 the Regulatory Authority.

Information must be provided to all Looked After Children about how they can gain access to a suitably skilled Advocate by giving the names of independent organisations to the child, for example Action for Children.

This information should be included in the Children's Guide or provided to them at any time by their social worker or Independent Reviewing Officer especially where their wishes and feelings may not be in accordance with plans being made for them.

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 if requested to do so.

Eligibility

Children and young people, who are CLA, care Leavers, or making a complaint.

CAIS is the first point of contact for those eligible for an Advocate.

CAIS will talk to the child or young person and assess whether or not the issue could be dealt with appropriately internally or if an external Advocate is needed.

If a young person feels strongly that they do not wish the matter to be dealt with internally they will be referred to the external provider, Action for Children.

If the internal route is chosen the CAIS will contact the appropriate Team Manager copied to the Operational Manager and/or IRO according to the child or young person's preference.

If the child or young person is not happy with the outcome of internal mediation CAIS will refer them to Action for Children.

Not Eligible

Children and Young People who are subject to a Child Protection Plan, a Child in need Plan, an Assessment, Southwark cases, (unless making a complaint).

These children and young people will be dealt with by internal mediation.

CAIS will receive the referral, and contact the relevant Team Manager copied to the Operational Manager. The timescale for a response to the child or young person is 10 days.

If internal mediation does not resolve the issue and there is concern about the vulnerability or safety of the child or young person, the CAIS Manager will refer the matter to the Service Manager, Safeguarding and Quality Assurance.

This procedure is set out in the form of a flow chart.


2. Independent Visitors

2.1 When to Appoint

An appointment of an Independent Visitor (IV) for a Looked After Child 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 as part of the care plan for the child or young person.

The child must be consulted about the appointment and if he or she objects, the appointment should not be made.

Islington's provider is Action For Children. To refer a child or young person please use the form (Referral Form) provided here and send it to the CAIS Manager who will liaise with Action for Children.

If the child or young person requests a specific person to be their independent visitor the social worker must refer this to the CAIS Manager.

2.2 Duties of Independent Visitor

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 views of the Independent Visitor should be sought before each Looked After Review to which he or she should be invited if the child requests it.

The Independent Visitor should also encourage the child to participate in decision-making.

2.3 Review of Appointment

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.

2.4 Recording on ICS

The involvement of an IV should be included on the other agencies section of the involvement tab on the child or young persons ICS file.

The referral forms and the log sheet sent to the social worker after every IV visit should be scanned and uploaded on to the forms tab of the young persons ICS file.

End