Advocacy Strand: Spot Purchase Support to Parents

What was the person’s situation before working with Advocacy Focus?

Carla was a new mum experiencing periods of poor mental health. Professionals had serious concerns about how Carla’s mental health would impact on her ability to parent her child, Emily, long term. As a result, care proceedings were instigated. Consideration was being given for Emily to be placed under a long-term care order in the care of her extended family, with Carla and the Local Authority sharing parental responsibility. However, if the latter became unviable, the possibility of adoption was also being prepared for.

Emily’s social worker recognised that Carla may have difficulties navigating the care proceedings without extra support, so an Independent Advocate was commissioned.

What did the Independent Advocate do to help the person?

Carla’s Independent Advocate spoke to her and her social worker about what support would be most beneficial to Carla and agreed a plan that they would:  

  • help Carla to understand lots of different information, such as court reports and adoption medical forms.
  • assist Carla during meetings with her solicitor to prepare her statements for court.
  • attend court hearings to support Carla, as she did not have a Court Intermediary.  Intermediaries are communication specialists who work on behalf of His Majesty’s Court & Tribunal Service (HMCTS) to support people participating in a court hearing. They provide impartial recommendations about a person’s specific communication needs and outline the steps needed to meet these.

What was the outcome?

The judge made a care order directing that Emily be placed in the care of her extended family long-term.

Carla felt that she was involved in the care proceedings. Although Carla would’ve loved to be able to care for Emily herself, she stated that she understood the reasons for the decision made,

The Independent Advocate helped Carla to understand her barrister’s advice on what she would need to achieve and evidence, should she wish to challenge the court order at any time in the future.  

The Independent Advocate was further commissioned to continue to work with Carla to support her during Looked After Child Reviews/ family time meetings that would take place to ensure that she felt able to be fully involved.

After being supported to prepare for, and attend, several review meetings, and discussing tips and practicing speaking up in meetings with her Independent Advocate, Carla expressed that she now felt able to prepare for these meeting and to speak for herself; putting her views across confidently. The term for this is ‘self-advocacy’. The Independent Advocate took a step back to enable Carla to do this.

Why was advocacy support so effective?

Within Children’s Social Care and care proceedings, there is a lot of jargon used. Carla’s Independent Advocate supported Carla to understand terminology that is used and interpret complex reports and reasons for the Local Authority’s concerns. Ultimately advocacy supported Carla to be heard and involved.  

The Independent Advocate was a constant source of support for Carla throughout the care proceedings process. They also provided continuing support after court proceedings had concluded whilst Carla was trying to come to terms with her new situation, the dramatic life changes she was going through, and learning how to deal with her daughter being a Looked After Child.

Our ethos is always to try to support the person to reach the point of being able to self-advocate, where possible, and Carla was able to achieve this.

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