Source Children & Young People Now Monday, December 5, 2022
The report finds that 31 per cent of children and young people did not know how to access an advocate. It also estimates that this figure is lower across the entire population of children in care, suggesting that children who are in contact with organisations such as Coram Voice and NYAS are likely to have an awareness of their right to advocacy.
It further adds that children in care felt it was important to have advocates who “listen, are honest, and get to know them”, with one young person saying they wanted support from someone who “makes an effort to form a meaningful relationship with me that doesn’t just feel like a task.”
The report finds mixed feelings among young people about the role of independent reviewing officers (IROs), with some saying they were not independent as they are employed by the council, while others expressed worry about the Care Review’s recommendation to scrap the role.
It also notes that a third of those surveyed had never heard of independent visitors – volunteers who spend time with young people in care – despite their legal right to one.
Only 38 per cent of young respondents reported having seen an independent visitor during their time in the care system, and almost half of those asked said they did not know how to access one.
The report includes a number of recommendations, including:
- The government should implement the Care Review’s recommendation for an opt-out model of independent advocacy support
- The independent visitor service should be redeveloped in collaboration with young people, including the addition of a legal duty for local authorities to offer children in care and care leavers an independent visitor or befriending service up to the age of 25
- The government should prioritise consulting widely on making care experience a protected characteristic, with more resources produced to explain to young people what this means
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