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Whose agenda? Participation and Childrens Advocacy in Wales Imperfect present But planning a better future.

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Presentation on theme: "Whose agenda? Participation and Childrens Advocacy in Wales Imperfect present But planning a better future."— Presentation transcript:

1 Whose agenda? Participation and Childrens Advocacy in Wales Imperfect present But planning a better future

2 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Location - Cardiff 2 hours west of London Capital city of Wales

3 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences

4 Child as citizen? Citizen as member of community – to be involved in decisions About relationships of inter-dependence Escape language of futures, practice listening now. Children right to our time. Adult power inescapable – involve early. Child is attentive witness to our morality. Participation adult-defined?

5 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Wales policy (i) Childrens Commissioner, 2001, £1.6m 2003 C&YP Assembly for Wales, 0-25 yrs, (Art 12 UNCRC), engage with policy NAfW 2004 (country report) formally adopts UNCRC as basis of policy making. Statutory school councils. 2 students serve as governors in secondary schools Gov policy – Childrens Assembly - active part in decision making / influencing services.

6 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Wales policy (ii) Children and Young Peoples Cabinet Committee, monthly, Leader and ministers. Flagship policy: Children & Young People: Rights to Action with 7 Core aims: flying start; range of educational opps; best health and free from abuse; access to cultural and leisure activities; listened to and identity recognised; safe home, physical and emotional well-being; not disadvantaged by poverty.

7 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Children in Wales 650,000 0 – 19; 4,500 looked after. 28% defined as in poverty = 170,000 70,000 severe poverty, £130 per week, not including housing benefit. 16 year olds dont get 5 GCSEs = 15% 7.5% 16 year olds no GCSEs = worst UK high smoking girls, obese boys, poor diet. Unfit dwellings, highest proportion who are poor at school.

8 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Listening to vulnerable children Scandals – children not listened to 2001 WAG fund LAs to commission vols Adoption & Children Act 2002, children in need have right to advocacy in complaints in relation to 1989 Children Act 2003 WAG launch 10 National Standards 2004 Childrens Commissioner says still problems for children being heard – why!?

9 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Wales Government definition Speaking up for children, empowering so rights respected, wishes heard. Views, needs and wishes represented to decision makers – help them navigate the system Case based service – targeted at social care priorities vol sector deliver to 22 Local Authorities Health and education catching up

10 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences What do Advocates do? Unit of activity hard to establish / measure 1 to 1 – counselling / comps advice Seek and meet target groups of children Promote service to key audiences Participation events Newsletters / communications/ phones Attend meetings with children Duplication?

11 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Suspicious minds – tick-box game? Research to map key stakeholders views How many children get advocacy for complaint-making or other activities and what do they think of service? What LA think of advocates & vice versa? What impedes / facilitates advocacy at an organisational and strategic level?

12 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Hard to find – but much regarded Not understood – how popularise? Info not read /retained – more innovative? Word of mouth – other professionals Liked /expect – rapport, accurate reporting of their words, confidence and persistence in presenting case, provide help without making decisions, setting out options. Emotional work – being – doing advocacy

13 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Imagining the advocate Draw and annotate – …..they will have a big heart, big ears for listening, a big mouth for getting heard, and good shoes to get where theyre going…… …..would listen, have satellite ears, a big brain, and uses her head, she has open and fiery eyes, but shes not angry, she gets attention…

14 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Antipathy, Ambivalence, Approval – Responses from social workers SW rivalry– identity & power usurpers! pro-complaints, irresponsible, dont refer. Advocacy becomes a cop-out = see your advocate, nothing I can do! Advocacy & complaints an opportunity. Not a threat. Some over-referred - advocates complain co-option!

15 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences Childrens Complaints - Wales (12 months) 678 registered complaints 70% led by adults – mainly parents 48% in care system 30% led by child over 10 with adult support 23% led by child as sole advocate 11% involved childrens advocate

16 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences How many seen and cost? £1,000,000. Range 12 to 80 children seen p.a. Annual cost £25,000 - £150,000 Network/virtual orgs, staffing fragile 3 year contracts – time and trust Marketised = distrust system No independence for agencies No robust evaluation

17 Cardiff University School of Social Sciences We need a new Model National Helpline, National Advo Unit. Regional commissioning of one-stop service to mainstream advocacy. 3 tiers – complaints-specialists; high needs - hard to reach; universal access for any child Ambitious participation agenda: children as advocates, trainers, planning, review.


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