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BLOG: The Advantages of Advocacy

Claire Caswell

As a parent going through care proceedings it is important to have the right support and assistance during this difficult time. This can be provided in lots of different ways and from various sources. Obviously having the right legal representation will ensure your voice is heard in the case but some people need extra help in ensuring that what they want to say is properly communicated to their solicitor. When the need arises consideration can be given to signposting a parent to an advocacy service. This work can provide an invaluable service at a time of need.

Here are 4 good reasons why parents going through care proceedings should access the help and support from an advocate

1. This is an acutely stressful and highly emotive time in a person’s life.

A parent may know the local authority’s plans to issue care proceedings but nothing can prepare them for the reality of saying goodbye and the road ahead.

2. Parents need a ‘voice’.

It is very often once care proceedings have commenced that a mother and father may undergo a number of assessments. They include cognitive assessments, psychiatric assessments and parenting assessments.

A parent may for the first time in their life be told that they lack the capacity to instruct their solicitors and are diagnosed with some form of learning disability. They may have been excluded from school due to behavioural issues and never been assessed for any form of disability.

In such circumstances an advocate can provide support which enables parents to participate in the court process. They can attend appointments with solicitors, attend LAC reviews, court hearings and other key meetings.

3. It reduces parent’s sense of isolation.

Going through care proceedings can be a lonely time and often parents don’t have the support from family and friends. The advocate can signpost parents to specialist services, such as drug and alcohol programmes, domestic violence organisations and counselling services. This not only reduces their feelings of isolation but they can help improve a parent’s mental and emotional health.

4. Having an advocate if a child doesn’t come home can be invaluable.

An advocate is someone who is still there if the world has stepped out. They can be the only person in a parent’s life who can help and encourage them to move forward and on with their lives.

An advocate will often attend the farewell contact, the last contact the parent has before the child is adopted. This is an incredibly stressful and sad time for parents, and therefore having someone there with them, supporting them is invaluable.

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