Parents often advocate for their children…standing up for your child is part of parenting. Whether it is sharing your child’s needs with a kindy teacher or ensuring they are treated fairly by other kids in the park, the roles of parent and advocate are quite similar.
For parents or carers of children with a disability, advocating for your child takes on a whole new meaning and added layers of responsibility.
Today, we’re going to explore what this means and share some tips for effectively advocating for your child or a child you care for.
What is advocacy?
Advocacy is the act of speaking on behalf of another person, standing up for their rights or helping them to get services they need.
An advocate is an individual who can support, help or represent someone else to achieve a positive outcome, often in difficult or challenging situations.
What does advocacy involve?
It is important that the person you care for is at the centre of any decisions made for or about them and where possible, they are involved in the decision-making process.
Advocacy often involves talking to agencies, providers or health care professionals about the needs of children in your care.
Advocating for your child can include:
- Protecting their rights: This may involve speaking up in a meeting, or ensuring your child is treated with respect by service providers.
- Being informed: Getting to know the system, how it works and how it can best suit the needs of your child.
- Addressing discrimination and unfair treatment.
- Building capacity for your child to advocate for themselves.
Making decisions as an advocate.
Decision-making on behalf of others can be challenging at times, especially if your child is non-verbal.
Some of the things that you might like to think about when making decisions are:
- What information do you need so you can make an informed decision?
- What are the child’s likes and dislikes?
- How can your child be involved in decisions affecting them?
- How can you use the process to help build capacity for your child?
- Are there cultural or religious needs or preferences that should be considered?
- Can other people such as friends, service providers or medical professionals assist with the decision-making process?
Effectively advocating for your child.
Having helped countless parents and carers navigate the NDIS on behalf of their children, the Leap in! Crew has come up with some helpful hints on how to advocate for your child when it comes to the NDIS.
1. Do your research.
A key component in the pre-planning process is to obtain as much information as you can from a variety of sources. Research online, talk to other parents or trusted service providers. Know your child’s rights in regards to the decision that is being made or the support you are seeking.
2. Be prepared.
In addition to researching, plan your conversations in advance. Prepare a list of questions and be clear on the outcome you want to achieve from each conversation. If you’re lacking in confidence, it can help to have a spouse or friend by your side.
3. Keep good records.
Record the details of any conversations or meetings including the date, time, person you spoke to and what was discussed. Keep all documents in one place so that you can refer to later if necessary. When using the Leap in! NDIS planning app, you can upload documents and information as well as capture everything you need in the one location.
4. Get things in writing.
If possible, confirm details in writing via email or post. If you’re negotiating with a service provider, we recommend locking in the details up front and obtaining a Service Agreement that is signed by both parties.
5. Speak up.
Ever heard the saying “speak the truth, even if your voice shakes?” Sometimes it can be hard to speak up, whether it’s to ask for help, call out unfair or discriminatory treatment or tell someone they are not fulfilling their obligations. Doing your research and being prepared can help you to speak up confidently when the need arises.
If you’d like to speak with the Leap in! Crew for ideas on how you can effectively advocate for your child during your NDIS meeting or to connect with an extensive range of providers across Australia, call 1300 05 78 78 or email firstname.lastname@example.org