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Adoption and Children Act (Northern Ireland) 2022

Section 132: Independent advocacy services

Section 132 inserts new Article 45A (Independent advocacy services) in the Children Order to place a duty on authorities to make arrangements for assistance to persons who make, or intend to make, representations under Article 35D and to children who make, or intend to make, representations under Article 45 of the Children Order (new paragraph (1)). New paragraph (2) provides that the assistance to be provided shall include assistance by way of representation.

New paragraph (3)(a) provides that the advocacy service must not be provided by a person who is prevented from doing so by regulations made by the Department. This provision will be used to ensure the independence of the service for example, by providing that no person involved in the management of the case in question or in considering the complaint may act as an advocate.

New paragraph (3)(b) provides that the arrangements must also comply with any other provision made by the regulations. New paragraph (4) provides for authorities to monitor the provision of assistance under this section to ensure that they comply with regulations made for the purposes of paragraph (3) (i.e. ensuring independence). This reflects Article 45(6) of the Children Order. New paragraph (5) provides that every authority shall give such publicity to their arrangements for the provision of assistance as they consider appropriate. This reflects Article 45(8) of the Children Order.

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