We commissioned independent evaluations of the professional advocacy service and reports were published in 2009 and 2011.
What the evaluators found:
97% of parents and family members felt that our advocacy service had been helpful and 46% felt it had made a difference to the outcome of their case (Fraser and Featherstone, 2011).
The evaluators spoke to parents, social workers, case conference chairs, and heads of service. The reports showed our advocacy service is highly valued, both by the clients who are supported, and by the local authorities who are involved with these families due to child protection concerns.
“Yes I could [trust the advocate] because they train for many years and have years of experience. I put my life in their hands and they gave me strength and made me work as a better mother, which is what I hope to be with the right advice…they have put me on the right track so I can do the right thing for my children.” (parent)
“I think all families should be offered this service as I believe at times the family think that their opinion will not be taken into account and that decisions have already been made prior to conference. I think it also allows for them to be heard and also remain calm during the conference, which I believe is more effective.” (social worker)
“The process of child protection is very frightening for parents and often they don't really understand when things happen and why...having that independent support is vital.” (conference chair)
One key recommendation from these studies is that Government introduces a statutory right to independent professional family advocacy for parents whose children are subject to child protection enquiries, alongside funding for third sector organisations to provide this provision. Family Rights Group will continue to lobby for this. We will also share the findings of the evaluation with the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) following their call for the potential benefits of providing support to vulnerable adults whose children are subject to child protection procedures to be investigated by research organisations in order to inform policymaking at a national and local level.