The NIVN Project Team have put together an overview of all of the relevant Independent Visitor legislation relating to provision across England and Wales. The document also summarises key published research relating to this statutory service.
Independent Visitor Legislation
- Children Act 1989: Section 23ZB
- Introduces the role of the Independent Visitor (IV) was introduced as a statutory service for children looked after. The Act identifies the IV as an independent volunteer with a role to “visit, befriend and advise the child”.
- Children and Young Persons Act 2008
- The Children Act 1989 was updated by the Children and Young Persons Act 2008, which repealed paragraph 17 of the 1989 Act to replace it with Section 23ZB. This amendment requires local authorities to consider the appointment of an IV where it appears that it would be in the child’s interests to do so, thus opening up eligibility beyond children with infrequent contact with family members.
- The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations. Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review (Department for Education, 2021)
- The guidance states that the IV role requires the child’s wishes and feelings should be ascertained in deciding whether or not an IV should be appointed. It states that the appointment should be considered as part of the development of the child’s care plan and looked after child review process.
- Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014
- The widening of eligibility criteria beyond children with infrequent contact with their family to best interests, was incorporated into the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 and came into effect in April 2016. Section 98 (1) confirms the role of the IV as someone who must visit, befriend and advise the child and repeats the ‘best interests’ criteria that had been introduced in 2008.
- Practice Standards and Good Practice Guide: Independent Visitors (Wales)
- This statutory document sets out practice standards and guidance for appointing IVs for care experienced children and young people in Wales. The Standards were commissioned by the Welsh Government and build on standards developed by the NIVN working across England and Wales.
- Codes of Practice under the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014
- The Codes of Practice provide statutory guidance to support people and organisations working within the framework created by the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014.
Published research on Independent Visitors
- National Independent Visitor Network Data Reports (2016, 2019, 2022)
- Relationships for children in care: The value of mentoring and befriending (New Economics Foundation, 2014)
- Independent Visitors: Children and Young People’s Views. Reported by the Children’s Rights Director for England (Ofsted, 2012)
- Care Matters: Time for change (Department for Education and Skills, 2007)
- Role, Relationship and Friend for Life: How Independent Visitors promote the Learning and Wellbeing of Looked After Children. (Clancy, D, 2016)