The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (the Act) requires any persons exercising functions under that Act to have due regard to the UNCRC. Further detail on exercising this duty has been provided in the Code of Practice in relation to Part 2 (General Functions) of the Act.
In addition, the Act requires any persons exercising functions under the Act to have regard to the importance of providing appropriate support to enable individuals, including looked after children, to participate in decisions which affect them to the extent which is appropriate in the circumstances.
The approach Welsh Government have taken and consulted widely upon through the development and implementation of the Act is to embed advocacy within the Act with a dedicated Code of Practice on advocacy under Part 10. This is supplemented by highlighting the importance of advocacy in all relevant codes of practice issued under the Act which has been done in alignment with the development of regulations placing requirements on providers of advocacy services, under the Regulation and Inspection of the Social Care Act 2016 (RISCA) which came into force 2 April 2018.
Under Part 10 of the 2014 Act local authorities have a duty to make arrangements for the provision of assistance to looked after children, former looked after children, and children who have needs for care and support. This assistance must include assistance by way of representation. This essentially replicated and replaced the duty within section 26A of the Children Act 1989, which has been repealed and replaced under section 174 of the 2014 Act.
Reference: WAG. (2019). Independent professional advocacy: National standards and outcomes framework for children and young people in Wales. Cardiff: OGL
Local Authorities have to make an active offer of advocacy toward a child or young person at the earliest possible time following entry into the statutory childcare system. This offer should take place through a face-to-face meeting between the child or young person and an independent professional advocate so that service users are fully informed of their rights and entitlements and are provided with information, advice and assistance on the role of independent advocacy. The active offer should remain ongoing throughout a child or young person’s time in care, and monitored through their statutory reviews by the Independent Reviewing Officer.