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Evaluation of the Children's Advocate Scheme Pilot in the Auckland Children and Young Persons Court

NCJ Number
T Loomis
Date Published
113 pages
This study evaluated the effectiveness of the Advocate Scheme Pilot Program using qualitative, quantitative, and comparative analyses of data for 1,212 cases appearing before the Auckland Children and Young Persons Court (New Zealand) between November 1, 1984, and April 30, 1985.
The program was designed to overcome some of the inadequacies of existing legal assistance programs. Ten lawyers were rostered on a regular basis as advocates, and a liaison officer was appointed to relate to families and the community. The program aimed to improve legal representation, improve children's court experience, increase family involvement, and make use of community and volunteer resources. Results of interviews, case studies, and participant observation indicate that the number of cases involving females and Pacific Island children increased dramatically, and the number of Maoris was excessively high. Rates of legal representation and the continuity of representation for subsequent appearances rose signficantly as a result of the program. Children and parents generally assessed the court experience favorably but levels of community and family involvement did not increase markedly. Recommendations suggest alterations in certain court procedures and the advocate roster, improved information and appointment systems, freeing of the liaison officer from clerical duties, and a more organized program for family and community involvement. Supplemental research data and forms are appended. 3 figures, 21 tables, and 16 references. (Author abstract modified)