Campaigners are calling for extended rights to advocacy for looked-after children to be enshrined in law.
Charities Voice and the Children’s Society are pressing for the measure to be included in the Children and Young Persons Bill, which entered the House of Commons yesterday. An early day motion has been tabled by Joan Humble MP in support of the campaign to give looked-after children more access to professional independent advocacy.
John Kemmis, chief executive of Voice, said today that children with mental health problems, children with learning disabilities and asylum-seeking children were in particular need of more support.
“We are asking for looked-after children to be given a general right to advocacy in the earliest stages of their care when important decisions are taken, not just at the point when they are given the opportunity to complain further down the line,” he said.
The Children and Young Persons Bill takes forward reforms for looked-after children’s services that were introduced in the Care Matters white paper last year.
An implementation plan for Care Matters, including areas that will not need legislation under the bill, was published by the government yesterday, but Kemmis said he was “disappointed” it did not include measures to strengthen advocacy support.
The plan reiterated previous reforms including the introduction of pilot GP-style social work practices, and said further details on the practices would be published in Spring.