Lawyers, Advocacy and Child Protection
31 Pages Posted: 12 Nov 2013
Date Written: 2011
In child protection matters, parents and children interact with the legal system at a time of great vulnerability and distress. There are significant power imbalances between parents and children on the one hand, and child protection officers on the other. This makes it difficult for parents and children to effectively advocate for themselves in child protection proceedings. This paper presents the results of empirical research undertaken with community service providers and lawyers regarding advocacy in child protection matters. In this study, both professional groups agreed that advocates are important for parents and children in child protection matters and improve court processes; however, there was no consensus regarding who should perform the advocacy work. Lawyers generally claimed that advocacy work should be undertaken by legally trained advocates, while community service providers tended to focus on the role that non-legal advocates can play in the overall process. It is concluded that both legal and non-legal advocates can make an important contribution towards ensuring that the best outcomes for children and families are achieved.
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