Advocacy, social justice and children's rights
Boylan, J. and Dalrymple, J. (2011) Advocacy, social justice and children's rights. Practice, 23 (1). pp. 19-30. ISSN 0950-3153
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Publisher's URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09503153.2010.536212
Independent advocacy has had an impact on promoting the rights of children and young people and breaking down some of the barriers that obstruct their ability to achieve social justice and engage in decision-making. Advocacy has also been considered an important social work skill. However, the development of independent advocacy and changes in the delivery of health and social care services have had an impact on how far social workers now feel able to directly advocate for service users. Social workers currently operate with a context of bureaucracy and marketisation that has become increasingly regulated and controlled by central government. This paper examines the tensions faced by social workers in managing their advocacy role through a discussion of advocacy in relation to children and young people. By examining the concepts of 'best interests' and the welfare of the child the paper considers dilemmas for social workers committed to advocating for children and young people. It argues that a wider culture of advocacy is needed that utilises social work advocacy and at the same time recognises how and when to access independent advocacy support. Social workers should reclaim their advocacy role and support independent advocacy to ensure that a culture of advocacy underpins the future delivery of services.