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What is a Children's Rights Officer?
A Children’s Rights Officer (CRO) is a professional who supports children or young people who currently have Local Authority involvement or are classed as looked after by the Local Authority for example they are in foster care. However, a CRO isn’t another social worker involved in the child’s life but rather a trained advocate who listens to the children’s views/wishes and then advocates on their behalf to ensure their views are taken into account and they are being treated fairly.
The role of a CRO is to help a child or young person in their understanding of Local Authority processes, their own rights and allows for the child to ask for more information or advice. The CRO may attend meetings with the child such as Child Protection Conferences or Looked After Child Reviews and can speak on their behalf if the child asks them to. They will also help and support the child to speak themselves in the meetings. The CRO will not do anything if the child asks them not to and will keep information confidential unless the child or someone else is at risk of harm.
A referral to a CRO may be made by the child themselves, professionals who are working with them such as the social worker or a teacher and by a family member on behalf of the child. The service is therefore independent from the social worker and other professionals and is a free service for the child or young person. If the initial referral is not made by the child themselves then they have a choice as to if they want to engage with the CRO or not as there is no obligation on the child to do so.
If the child believes that their rights have been breached then the CRO will help to address this problem with professionals for the child to ensure this does not continue. They will also ensure that the child is aware of the complaints procedure and will help them in accessing this if they wish.
Here at Emery Johnson Astills, we have extensive experience in advising and assisting parents and children at all stages of involvement with the Local Authority including child protection conferences and spanning to Care Proceedings.
If you have Local Authority involvement with regards to your child and would like advice in relation to this then please don’t hesitate to contact us at our Leicester Office on 0116 2554855 or our Loughborough Office on 01509 610 312. Alternatively, you can contact us via the website on www.johnsonastills.com for expert legal advice in this area.