Advocacy at the OCYA includes a number of activities that are aimed at ensuring the rights, interests and viewpoints of Alberta’s vulnerable children and youth are affirmed and acted upon. These activities include:
What is advocacy?
Advocacy is “intervention on behalf of children and groups of c hildren in relation to those services and institutions that impinge on their lives.” Advocacy is defined by “the concept that individual children, categories of children, or all children, have special rights and needs, and that prevailing circumstances require that they be given support to assure their access to entitlements, benefits, and services. Such support may involve making individual practitioners or agencies more responsive in specific instances or seeking larger system changes that affect classes of individuals over time” (Kahn, A., & Kamerman, S. (1972). Child Advocacy, Report of a National Baseline Study. Children’s Bureau, (LHEW-OCC-73-18), 183-183).
Advocacy must be independent to ensure the Advocate has sufficient autonomy to carry out the Advocates’ legislated responsibilities and has a voice independent of the related ministries and their designated service systems.
What do our Advocates do?
When a young person receives services from Individual Advocates, the Advocates:
What happens when you call to request an Advocate?
Call received by intake worker
(if message left, call is returned within one working day)
Intake worker will ask questions to determine whether the call is about a young person within the scope of the OCYA and whether there is an issue in which a young person may benefit from advocacy services.
The caller may be provided with some ideas to advocate on their own.
The caller may be referred to another organization that can better meet the identified need.
If it is determined that a young person is in the scope of the OCYA and:
An advocate will begin gathering information within seven days. Typically, the first point of contact for the advocate will be the young person.
All information that a young person provides to the Advocate in confidence is considered privileged and cannot be released without the consent of the young person. There are two exceptions to this:
Advocates assume a young person can direct advocacy efforts unless there are factors present that preclude this, such as:
The advocate will:
The young person will:
If an advocate is not taking direction from a young person, the advocate will:
There are critical points in the lives of young people receiving designated services under the Child, Youth and Family Enhancement Act or the Protection of Sexually Exploited Children Act, during which there may be barriers to their rights, interests and viewpoints being fully considered when decisions are made on their behalf. CYFEA policy requires the director to submit a mandatory notification to the OCYA in the following circumstances:
Once a mandatory notification has been received by OCYA, it will be responded to in the same way as any other written inquiry or referral.
National Advocacy Standards
THE CANADIAN COUNCIL OF CHILD AND YOUTH ADVOCATES
The Canadian Council of Child and Youth Advocates (CCCYA) is an alliance of
legislatively mandated advocates for the rights of children and youth. These advocates
may operate under various titles (e.g. Advocate, Representative, Ombudsman,
Commissioner), but all are official representatives in their particular provinces and
PURPOSES OF THE CCCYA NATIONAL ADVOCACY STANDARDS
The CCCYA National Advocacy Standards describe the minimum expected level of
service in member organizations. The standards are implementable and measurable
service targets. The means by which the standards are met and the criteria used to
determine compliance with the standards are to be established by each CCCYA
Member individually, in accordance with their provincial or territorial mandate.
The CCCYA National Advocacy Standards provide a guiding framework for operations,
to ensure consistent quality of work. They also provide: a basis for accountability; a
direction for staff training; and a means to evaluate service.
Read the CCCYA National Advocacy Standards here.