Petitions Committee considers regulation of child advocacy services

The Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament is currently considering a petition calling for regulation of non-statutory child advocacy services.

This calls for the Scottish Government to ensure competence, accountability and transparency of such services through regulation, and points out that such services which engage with children involved in court proceedings about residence and contact have no independent accountability.

Shared Parenting Scotland was among the organisations asked by the committee to submit our views on the petition.  In our submission we stated that:

“We support the petitioners in drawing attention to the extraordinary and unacceptable situation in which an adult whose identity, qualifications and PVG status are not known may be spending time alone with children as young as 4 years old over many months without the knowledge or permission of one of the child’s parents or any form of due process. The basis of their interaction with the child is not transparent, nor the therapeutic purpose of the intervention nor the clinical plan for assessing whether that purpose has been achieved.”

In seeking this change we are not disputing that children who have been affected by domestic abuse should be supported by advocacy services.  Our concern is with the examples we quoted in our submission of parents whose children have been treated inappropriately by non-statutory child advocacy services.

None of the  parents we mentioned in our submission have had any charges or prosecutions for domestic abuse.  Even when they found that their children were being supported by these services they were unable to discover anything about the basis of the intervention or the qualifications of people carrying out the service.