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Needs Code February 2017

Draft%20Additional%20Learning%20Needs%20Code%20February%202017

Independence of advocate

Independence of advocate 18.49 The local authority must have regard to the principle that any services provided under the arrangements must be independent of any person who is: the subject of an appeal to the Tribunal; or involved in investigating or adjudicating on such an appeal. 263 18.50 The independence of the advocate is essential to enable them to be able to act on behalf of the individual. Services providing advocacy should, as far as possible, be funded and managed in a way that ensures independence from the commissioning organisation. 18.51 Current practice in Wales is to achieve independence by commissioning advocacy services from an external provider which reinforces the perception and the experience that the service is independent. To preserve independence of advocacy arrangements, commissioners and providers should ensure that any issues of challenge and conflict are transparent and robust, and identified and addressed in the service level agreement between the commissioner and service provider. Local authority working with independent advocacy 18.52 When the child or young person does have an advocate, relevant bodies should recognise that an advocate’s role is to support and represent the child or young person, they should therefore take into account any representations made by an advocate. 18.53 The local authority should ensure that relevant people, such as school/FEI staff, are aware of advocacy services, a child or young person’s choice to have an advocate and the local authority’s duty to make independent advocacy available. 18.54 The local authority, school and FEI should take reasonable steps to assist the advocate in carrying out their role, for example letting other agencies know that an advocate is supporting a child or young person, facilitating access to the child or young person, and if appropriate, to relevant information. The advocate should be kept informed of any developments. 264 18.55 The local authority should consider whether providing advocacy under the Act may be best provided in connection with the local authorities duties to provide advocacy under other Acts. 265 263 Section 62(3) of the Act. 264 Page 34 of SSWB Code 265 for instance: section 130E of the Mental Health Act; section 332BB of the Education Act or paragraph 6D of Schedule 17 to the Equality Act 2010; section 35 of the Mental Capacity Act Page | 178

18.56 In these circumstances, consideration should be given to maximise the opportunities to secure continuity in individuals’ advocacy needs, this should include reducing the need for the individual to have to repeat their experiences and desired outcomes to different advocates. Wherever possible, the parties should seek to agree a single advocate to support the person. 18.57 Local authorities should consider combining their advocacy services with other advocacy services they are required to provide. Where this happens, the local authority should ensure that advocates are suitably qualified to provide advocacy and understand the systems they are providing advocacy on (such as ALN or functions under the SSWB Act). Local authorities may wish to have one distinct advocacy service. Promoting Arrangements 18.58 Local authorities must take the steps they consider appropriate for making their arrangements for avoiding and resolving disputes, and for providing independent advocacy services known to: children and young people for whom it is responsible; parents of children for whom it is responsible; head teachers and governing bodies of the schools it maintains; and other persons it considers appropriate, e.g. case friends, Health Boards, early years education settings, FEIs etc. 18.59 The local authority must also promote the use of such arrangements, for example by ensuring that children, their parents and young people receive details of the arrangements when they receive notice of a decision by the local authority. Chapters 8, 16 and 17 already set out that information about these arrangements must be provided when a decision has been made not to prepare a plan, a revised IDP is being proposed, or a decision has been made to cease to maintain an IDP. Other similar opportunities to provide information will also arise. Furthermore, local authorities must make information about their arrangements available on their websites. 18.60 When providing this information it should be in a suitable format to assist children, their parents and young people to understand what the arrangements are, for example, by using plain language The information should include how to access these arrangements,, such as providing a name, telephone number, point of contact etc. 2005; section 187 of the National Health Services (Wales) Act 2006, SSWB Act, including LAC Page | 179

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