Call for Independent Visitor scheme to be extended to age 25

A new report from the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) has called for the UK and Welsh governments to extend the Independent Visitor scheme for children in care up to the age of 25.

An Independent Visitor is a trained volunteer who is uniquely placed to provide care-experienced children and young people with emotional support and stability. Access to Independent Visitors is a statutory entitlement for children in care.

In its Across the Border report, NYAS cites research from the National Independent Visitor Network (NIVN), which revealed that just 3.3% of children in care in England, and 1% of children in care in Wales, have an Independent Visitor.

person sitting on bench

The report said: ‘The importance of offering Independent Visitor services is recognised as statutory under the Children Act 1989 in England and the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 in Wales. Despite this, many care-experienced children and young people do not know about their right to be matched with an Independent Visitor if it is in their best interests.’

With young people only able to access an Independent Visitor up to the age of 18, NYAS maintains there is a risk these young people won’t have the chance to build the kind of trusting relationship that the service can provide.

As a result, the charity is calling on the UK and Welsh governments to extend the scheme from 18 to 25, as is the same for advocacy services. This recommendation aligns with that from the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care for England that local authorities need to redesign their existing Independent Visitor schemes for children in care and care leavers to allow for long-term relationships to be built.

Ben Twomey, Director of Policy and Communications at NYAS, said: ‘NYAS, with the National Independent Visitor Network, launched the Right Friend campaign to champion care experienced children’s right to be connected with an Independent Visitor. We believe children and young people should have that right extended up to the age of 25 so that more children can grow up with the support of a friend.’

The Welsh Government commissioned standards for Independent Visitors which were delivered by NYAS Cymru and are in action across Wales. NIVN developed standards for England, but these have not yet been endorsed by the UK Government.

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top