Coram Voice responds to consultation on Advocacy Standards and Statutory Guidance

19 Dec 23

This week Coram Voice submitted our response to the Department for Education’s (DfE) ‘Revisions to the National Standards and Statutory Guidance for the Provision of Children’s and Young People’s Advocacy Services’.

We welcome these updates and are pleased to have informed their development as part of an expert advisory group as well as through our surveying of young people and consultations facilitated by A National Voice.

In our detailed response, we make suggestions about how to improve the language of these documents, how to make the Standards clearer, identify errors in the understanding of advocacy and highlight what we thought should be added or removed.

Some of our recommended changes include:

  • Use the publication of the new Standards and Guidance as an opportunity to promote awareness and understanding of advocacy services for children and young people.
  • Set clear expectations on commissioning organisations to promote, resource and work with advocacy services so that they can meet the standards.
  • Create a child-friendly plain English summary, including a clear definition of what advocacy is.
  • Make sure that the Guidance and Standards use consistent language and do not contradict each other. Make sure this language is empowering for children and young people and emphasises their rights.
  • Create a separate standard on Visiting Advocacy that recognises that visiting advocates who regularly visit a particular a home, school or hospital can see recurring problems and challenge abusive cultures in addition to supporting individual children to be heard.
  • Apply the Standards to all settings and circumstances where children and young people are entitled to help from an advocate – including health, social care, education, criminal justice, housing and immigration.
  • Proactively offer advocacy not just in the situations identified in the guidance, but provide a named advocate for all children and young people entitled to one.
  • Remove wording that would stop advocacy services from influencing parliament and policy-makers – a key role of advocacy services is to highlight systemic failures, amplify young people’s voices, and help them be heard nationally.

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