Independent advocacy for children and young people: developing an outcomes framework

Thomas, Nigel orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-5310-9144, Crowley, Anne, Moxon, Daniel, Ridley, Julie orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-0879-308X, Street, Cathy and Joshi, Puja (2017) Independent advocacy for children and young people: developing an outcomes framework. Children & Society . ISSN 0951-0605

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Advocacy services for vulnerable children and young people began to be provided in the 1980s (Willow, 2013) and have grown as legislation and guidance expanded the range and remit of services (Wood and Selwyn, 2013). Research has followed the development of policy and services, but until recently has not examined the impact and outcomes of advocacy in any depth. In this article we draw on findings from a study of the outcomes and impact of independent advocacy for children and young people to explore how the value of advocacy is understood by them and by advocates, social workers and other professionals, and to consider what differences advocacy can make to the lives of children and young people (Thomas et al., 2016). Our findings indicate that the outcomes of advocacy in children and young people’s lives can be significant and wide-ranging, including both direct effects on the child or young person and wider impact on services. This complex picture has implications for how best to capture and report the outcomes of advocacy, which we explore in the latter part of the article with the aid of a proposed new conceptual framework.

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