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The ACY provides advocacy services to children and youth in four main capacities:
Individual Advocacy includes the provision of information, self-advocacy, basic and comprehensive advocacy services. Individual Advocacy differs depending upon the type of intervention provided.
- Information - involves the provision of information and/or referral to another government department, board, or agency. These types of calls are usually opened and closed on the same day and involve very little action by the Advocacy Specialist.
- Self-Advocacy Assistance - involves the provision of information regarding programs, services, appeal procedures, options, and strategies, and may include coaching. These types of cases are usually very short term and can be opened and closed on the same day. Information may be mailed or e-mailed to assist the caller further, such as a copy of a policy or information regarding services and supports.
- Basic Advocacy Intervention - involves the provision of advocacy services requiring consultation and/or referral to other agencies and is usually completed within a short time frame. Advocacy staff engage in problem-solving strategies; make initial calls to service providers; and provide self-advocacy assistance. The cases usually require phone contact with service providers, referrals to Child, Youth and Family Services and other agencies and are short term in nature.
- Comprehensive Advocacy Intervention - involves the provision of intensive advocacy intervention when basic advocacy intervention and/or self-advocacy assistance is not sufficient. Comprehensive Advocacy Intervention may involve in-depth self-advocacy coaching; meetings with multiple service providers; meetings with the child or youth and/or his or her natural advocate; attending/arranging case conferences/ meetings; and engaging in alternate dispute resolution processes.
The Advocate for Children and Youth regularly monitors issues that appear to be impacting a group(s) of children and youth. These issues may require further research to determine if they are of a systemic nature. Often, individual files highlight issues which require further advocacy work. At the call of the Advocate for Children and Youth, issues that are presently being assessed as a possible systemic matter, may be determined to require that a systemic file be opened and assigned to a Systemic Advocacy Consultant for more comprehensive involvement.
Systemic files are opened when issues presented to the Advocate impact a group(s) of children and youth and, therefore, require advocacy from a systemic perspective. Systemic issues occur when policies and practices of government agencies interfere with the delivery of services and programs intended to support the quality of life for children and youth.
A systemic approach is used to influence programs and services, identify gaps, and determine the impact of the delivery of services and programs on children and youth in the Province. This is accomplished by providing recommendations to government regarding the challenges and changes needed to practices, policies and procedures.
Education and Promotion
Section 3 of the Act requires the Advocate to "protect and advance the rights of children and youth." The education and promotion role of the Office is inclusive to all regions of the province through Advocacy Outreach.
Advocacy outreach provides opportunities for in-person contact with individuals, groups and agencies throughout the province as well as the opportunity to promote the office and educate the public about the role of the Advocate and about children's rights. This is accomplished through outreach, by developing relationships with service providers and engaging children and youth in their environment. This includes proactively finding opportunities to engage individuals at all levels by community capacity building, regional visits, volunteer initiatives and discussions and consultations regarding issues affecting children and youth in Newfoundland and Labrador.
In 2012-2013 the Office implemented its Organizational Liaison program. This program is a proactive program whereby both Individual Advocacy Specialists and Systemic Consultants are assigned as liaison to a specific youth serving centre throughout the province. This staff person is dedicated to the facility to ensure consistent communications and advocacy for youth. This program increases the knowledge staff and youth in these homes have of the Office and provides them with a dedicated contact person to connect with if they feel that there is an issue or concern that our Office may be able to assist them to address.
Reviews and investigations are carried out pursuant to Section 15 (1) sub-section (c) of the Child and Youth Advocate Act. The Advocate for Children and Youth may review or investigate a matter on behalf of a child or youth, or group of them, whether or not a complaint has been made and may conduct an investigation if advocacy, mediation, or another dispute resolution process has not resulted in an outcome satisfactory to the Advocate.
The process for reviews and investigations is based on a comprehensive framework that may include review of documents, interviews of individuals, analysis of facts, and release of findings and recommendations to government and agencies and follow up respecting the recommendations. As necessary, the Advocate can subpoena individuals to be interviewed.
Restrictions and limitations of the Office:
Section 15 (2), Sections 18 and 27 of the Act
The Advocate can determine based on the Act not to intervene in the following circumstances:
- A matter of which the complainant has had knowledge for more than one year.
- The referral is felt to be frivolous, not made in good faith or concerns a trivial matter.
- The public interest on balance outweighs the complainant's interest.
- The law, or existing administrative procedure, provides an adequate remedy.
- The Advocate cannot act as legal counsel, intervene in or change a decision of a court.
- The Advocate or office staff cannot give evidence in a court or judicial proceeding in exercising the functions and duties under the Act.
- The Advocate cannot investigate a matter where no government department, agency or board service is being provided.
- The Advocate cannot make or reverse a decision regarding services of government.