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Significant numbers of children are denied their statutory right to advocacy: Children’s Commissioner

Local authorities should have a clear strategy for providing advocacy services

A new report from the Children's Commissioner for England – Advocacy for Children – states that there is a significant group of children being denied access to advocacy despite having a statutory entitlement to it. In some local authorities, fewer than 75 per cent of care leavers' referrals for advocacy are being taken forward.

The report follows previous studies commissioned by the Children's Commissioner's office and other recent research into advocacy. The work builds on research by the Children's Commissioner in 2016, which also explored the provision of advocacy across England and found substantial variation across local authorities, with spend per child or young person ranging from £2 to £668 each year.

The new report intends both to take stock of advocacy provided by local authorities three years on and to highlight ongoing issues observed by the Children's Commissioner's Help at Hand service, which provides advice and representation for children in care, care leavers and children living away from home.

The report makes several key recommendations. First and foremost, local authorities should be required to set out a clear strategy for a local offer for all children eligible to advocacy, showing how advocacy will be delivered and should work towards a highly visible universal advocacy service for children and young people up to the age of 25.

The Children's Commissioner says:

"We know the enormous financial pressures on councils and that advocacy services can be the first to go when services are cut. But listening to the children they care for should be central to the work they do. Thirty years on from the UNCRC and the Children Act 1989, it seems some of the core values they enshrine, like many of the kids we care for, are still fighting to be heard."

For the report, click here.