Who are we?
The Children’s Commissioner’s office is a national, independent organisation with statutory powers and regulations. The Commissioner has a legal duty to promote and protect the rights of all children in England in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).
The Children and Families Act 2014 gives her special responsibility for the rights of children who are in or leaving care, living away from home or receiving social care services (section 8A). The Commissioner’s Advice Line must be made available to looked after children and is required in the relevant guidance. The Commissioner’s Advice Line is here to support vulnerable children who are:
- In care or leaving care (up to age 21 or 25 if in full-time education, or with a disability)
- Living away from home in various settings and arrangements
- Receiving support from children’s social care
- This includes looked after children, care leavers, children on Child Protection and Child in Need plans, homeless 16 and 17 year olds, children under private fostering arrangements, children living at boarding schools, residential special schools, young offending institutions, secure children’s homes, secure units, secure mental health settings, unaccompanied asylum seekers and young people with needs arising from their immigration status.
What do we do?
- We provide advice, assistance and representation on behalf of children and young people. We aim to involve the young person directly wherever possible, but will take enquiries from adults phoning in on their behalf, including parents/carers, professionals and others working with the young person.
- A member of staff will listen to your concerns and ask further details to ensure that we fully understand the child or young person’s situation.
- We will provide advice, information and sign-posting about rights, entitlements, complaints against a local authority or other organisation, and suggest ways forward to ensure that the matter is resolved in accordance with the UNCRC, national guidelines and standards.
- Provide assistance in helping young people access local advocacy so that they can be directly supported to voice their concerns. Unfortunately we do not have the capacity to take on long-term work on behalf of young people, so we will always aim to link them to local support if this is what they would like.
- Consider whether the Children’s Commissioner’s Office needs to make representations to those responsible for decision making on behalf of the young person to try and ensure that the matter is resolved.
What is the role and purpose of the service?
- To provide advice to children living away from home, in care, leaving care, care leavers or those working with children’s services when they feel that they are not being treated fairly or have questions about the services they are receiving.
- To promote the key rights of these children: To be safe, have their views heard, to be involved in decisions about their lives, to have their best interests put first and to receive the services which they need and are in entitled to by law. AND to represent these rights and views to people who make decisions about their lives.
- To empower young people to know their rights, access their entitlements, share their views, wishes and feelings and to provide help in doing this when they feel unable.
- To work to develop awareness of these children’s rights and entitlements and to promote their views collectively. The common or pressing issues that arise out of the service will be taken forward by the Commissioner for action, including raising these concerns with Ministers or addressing areas where a change in policy is needed.
What we can’t do:
- We cannot intervene on behalf of individual cases that are outside our legal remit (Section 8A). We also cannot undertake investigations or make representations on behalf of adults, carers or professionals- only children and young people under our remit.
- We cannot undertake safeguarding investigations or force local authorities, police or courts to change their decisions or take a particular course of action.
- We cannot challenge matters that are currently before a court.
- We cannot provide an emergency service or counselling.
How to contact us:
- Phone us free on 0800 528 0731
- Email us at [email protected]
- Visit our website at www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk
- Please be aware that you can contact us anonymously and information you share will be kept confidential and private unless you share information that suggests a child may be at risk of harm. Our safeguarding policy ensures that all concerns about children are passed on to the relevant authorities for investigation and/or action. If we need to make a safeguarding referral we will tell you and explain our reasoning.