A child advocate is responsible for providing assistance to children and families in crisis. Courts commonly appoint child advocates to speak on the behalf of children whose welfare may be in question, such as in cases of neglect and abuse. Volunteer child advocates must take training courses through an advocacy agency. Salaried advocates are trained social workers with at least a bachelor’s degree in social work or a related field. Some states also require licensure.
Investigate Each Case Thoroughly
Each case must be thoroughly investigated by the child advocate. This involves speaking with the child on a regular basis, interviewing family and friends, and consulting with teachers and physicians. The child advocate must also review the child’s medical history, psychiatric records and academic progress. In some cases, it may even be required to observe the child in various social settings to see how the child behaves and interacts with others. The goal of the child advocate is to determine what’s in the best interest of the child, and try to come up with a plan to make the situation better.
Report Findings to the Court
Detailed records must be kept by the child advocate for every case worked on. These records should include interview summaries, copies of all the records gathered through the investigation process, and the child advocate’s recommendations. Formal reports must be submitted to the court at least two weeks before every hearing or court appearance. In some cases, the child advocate may be expected to appear in front of a judge to discuss the welfare of the child.