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Child Advocacy: Is It Effective? Research Paper

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One of the primary goals of child advocacy is to create, strengthen, implement, and monitor international norms and children’s rights. Today, international child advocacy agencies and organizations are the most informal configuration of nonstate actors. The main areas of child advocacy involve children’s rights and child abuse issues, child pornography and child prostitution, child labor, primary care (heath), and education. Child advocacy proves to be effective because it helps children to protect their rights and allows state organizations to monitor and control children’s rights and freedoms.

The aim of child advocacy is to protect children from abuse and maltreatment. Following Murry (2005): ‘Advocacy for children/youth can take many forms, including self-advocacy, peer advocacy, family advocacy, group advocacy, and professional advocacy” (p. 414). While some agencies are formalized, most are based on informal contacts. The essence of advocacy activity is the exchange and use of information (Courter, 1996). Agencies do not involve either sustained coordination of tactics or mobilizing large numbers of people in the kind of activity. Child advocacy agencies and organizations are the most common form of transnational collective action. It is possible to single out four characteristics of child advocacy:

  1. advocates maintain their loyalty to the individuals they serve despite potential conflict;
  2. advocates seek to change the status quo;
  3. advocates represent individuals and work collaboratively with others;
  4. advocates endeavor to correct and/or improve identified problematic areas” (Murry 2005, p. 414).

In considering the effects of special programs for children, it should always be remembered that different individuals have different needs, weaknesses, and qualities.

Main body

Statistical results prove that child advocacy is an effective solution to poverty reduction and fair treatment of children. According to statistical results presented by the US Department of Health and Human Services, “an estimated 1.8 million referrals alleging child abuse or neglect were accepted by State and local child protective services (CPS) agencies for investigation or assessment. These referrals included more than 3 million children; approximately 896,000 of these children were determined by the CPS agencies to be victims of child abuse or neglect” (2008). The effectiveness of child advocacy and related programs is that they are sensitive to the existence of individual differences and are built in enough flexibility so that caregivers can tailor the curriculum to the needs of different children (Courter, 1996).

Acting through advocacy agencies, victims of oppression have organized themselves, stimulated advocacy agencies and organizations, and ultimately reshaped state interests, undermined regimes, and strengthened international norms on which they drew. At the same time, human rights activists are daily aware of the abiding limits on their ability to curb violations of widely accepted international human rights norms. These different situations exemplify the continuing limits facing transnational child advocacy agencies in their efforts to influence powerful states on the one hand, and nonstate perpetrators on the other (Hubner and Wolfson 2003). Following Coleman (2005):

“Children’s interests are always particularly vulnerable in the ubiquitous constitutional and political battle. Advocates of the prevailing approach to the maltreatment problem are right to be concerned about unfettered family privacy, for children are “the Achilles heel of liberalism.” (413).

Today, new technical and bureaucratical structures are created alongside the old ones, unnecessarily multiplying the number of programs and projects, and aggravating a major disparity in the proportion of funds spent inside public organs, as compared to that which effectively reaches the population.

Child advocacy groups pay special attention to such issues as child abuse child pornography and child prostitution. In recent years, the rate of children suffered from abuse and forced prostitution was reduced by 15 % in comparison with the late 1990s. Abuse’ is defined as activities that can range from flashing to the use of pornographic materials, physical violence, and emotional abuse. Abuse increases in frequency during times of stress, especially if females are isolated from social support; however, studies have shown that when these females are provided social support, abuse and neglect often stop. Social support maybe even more crucial for some individuals, such as female monkeys who are prone to depression.

Such studies provide an empirical basis for the argument that federally supported daycare programs in economically deprived areas, although costly, may not only provide an economic resource so that mothers can remain employed but also prevent or ameliorate abuse and other negative treatment of children. Child care is viewed largely as a service for parents, especially mothers, in order to facilitate work while children are young (Hubner and Wolfson 2003).

Statistical results prove that the lack of adequate child care and child advocacy led to an increased rate of poverty and child abuse. The Census Bureau has estimated that more than 2 million school-age children regularly spend some period of time without adult supervision after their school day ends and before a parent returns home. Other sources suggest that the number of latchkey children is much higher.

For example, the Children’s Defense Fund (1990) has estimated that between 6 and 7 million children under the age of 13 are probably left to fend for themselves for a significant part of their day. By virtually every account and every measure, the demand for child care services throughout the nation vastly exceeds the supply. Parents and families experience enormous problems in finding and paying for satisfactory child care (Hubner and Wolfson 2003).

Since 2000, clearly based on a welfare orientation to child daycare, programs organized by child advocacy centers are designed to help low-income families pay their child-care expenses (Hubner and Wolfson 2003). The extent to which this federal program actually assists parents is largely dependent on the provincial governments. First, while at current funding levels this program requires provincial governments to commit themselves to spend 50 cents out of every dollar, provincial governments are not compelled to participate in this program at all (Wallace, 2004). Moreover, there is tremendous variation across provinces as to the definition of the low-income-a family eligible in one province may very well not be eligible in another.

Thus, although preschoolers generally seek peer interaction, timid preschoolers may seek adult support and through such support thrive and develop normally. As children get older, aggression becomes a problem, but not for all individuals. Again, the program must have a plan for dealing with these individual differences. A small but persistent proportion of our monkey-breeding colony population neglect or abuses their offspring (Wallace, 2004).

Rather than presenting child care as a drain on resources, advocates would be well advised to emphasize the flow of funds into the economy as a reasonable basis for future investment. The extent of that investment, particularly for capital outlay, is quite large. But given that fees do flow through the child care sector and that some costs are recoverable, investment in child care is not a giveaway nor a total loss economically on a direct basis (Hubner and Wolfson 2003).

Certainly, when advocating for a subsidy, child care advocates have developed expertise in describing deferred and indirect benefits of childhood supervision and intervention; this has been a major contribution of projects, from which advocates have crafted articulate arguments. Capital outlay to alleviate the shortage of space, however, could go to fund private, fee-for-service programs as well as subsidized centers and homes.

International and domestic human rights groups formed a well-known transnational advocacy agency that set key precedents for later human rights organizations. Following Murry (2005): “Effective advocacy should be founded on the commitment to sustain human rights and dignity, although this ideal may not be shared nor may the school personnel involved perceive that a social injustice even exists, much less needs correcting” (p. 414).

Such international organizations as “Free the Children” pioneered activities that are now standard practice, including a variety of monitoring efforts, international funding for domestic opposition groups and research centers, an activist role for intergovernmental organizations, and lobbying powerful states. The activity of this organization shows that child advocacy is an effective solution to child abuse and neglect, maltreatment, and poverty. At the same time, preexisting domestic and international human rights norms acted as a “pull factor” to facilitate the emergence and growth of transnational advocacy agencies.

In the absence of preexisting human rights norms, it is difficult to imagine the formation and growth of such a dense network in relatively short time periods. In contrast to most of the other agencies, child advocacy agencies did not have to create international norms before or while attempting to hold states accountable to those norms. States themselves, under pressure from earlier generations of human rights activists, had formulated international norms protecting civil and political rights. Likewise, earlier generations of politicians and social groups had created strong and widespread human rights norms in the domestic arena (Hubner and Wolfson 2003).

Child advocacy is effective because it attracts the attention of society and the state to problems of children and their human rights. For instance, the motivation for child care policies at a specific time and place is complex. Short-run labor market demands are only one aspect of national child care policies; long-term human capital investment can be as significant (Kumari and Brooks, 2004). Nonetheless, the changing roles of children and the substantial growth in female labor force participation rates have clearly had an impact on the supply of child care services in European countries. These services include part-day and full-day programs.

Relative care is not included, nor occasional babysitting, nor (although one could argue otherwise) care provided within a child’s own home. Preschool programs are largely public, or at the very least publicly funded if delivered through private, nonprofit auspices. Throughout much of Europe, these programs are thought of as an essential component of child and family policy generally and of child care policy in particular, and the goal is universal coverage for all. There is an almost universal demand among parents for preschool for children aged 3 and older, and wherever these programs are available children attend them for a full school day whether or not they have working mothers (Kumari and Brooks, 2004).

Availability, affordability, and quality are constant issues in the field of child care. The child care crisis has resulted in an enormous increase in the amount of interest and concern at the federal level in dealing with this problem faced by millions of American families. The increased national attention on child care has led to the introduction of a number of new proposals in Congress. Concurrent with the struggle to make child care more equitable are the efforts of diverse user groups and advocacy groups to pursue their own agendas through child care legislation.

These groups include children of various ages, ethnic minorities, teenage parents, student parents, migrant farmworkers, “yuppie puppies,” special-needs children, and welfare recipients in mandatory work programs (Wallace, 2004). Although all need child care, each group may have its own priorities that are reflected differently in the content of a child development program. Thus, in addition to getting a fair share of child care resources, meeting program content and program type priorities is important to interest groups f the dilemmas of achieving equity and maintaining diversity could be resolved, the magical moment will have arrived when sufficient resources to meet child care needs have finally been obtained (Kumari and Brooks, 2004).

Public policymakers cannot be expected to support child care without target figures on the amount of care needed and the cost of developing that care, as well as a serious consideration of strategies to finance those costs in ways that are acceptable to the taxpayer. Child care experts, even child care policy experts, tend to be developmental psychologists, educators, and the like, whose expertise is rightly focused on the child (Palfrey, 2006; Wallace, 2004).

The primary barriers to increasing the availability of child care, however, are lack of funds for capitalization, inconsistent and contradictory regulation, and lack of funds for subsidy. The field of child care, therefore, needs to engage experts in land-use planning, public finance, and regulatory law in any efforts toward expansion. In other words, the biggest impediment to alleviating the shortage of child care is not our knowledge of child development or “caregiver training or care modalities” (Palfrey, 2006).

The problem is financing and securing a broad social commitment to resolving the child care crisis. With the proper resources, child development experts could design and implement many different types of child care programs. “Advocacy is most effective when it informs and challenges schools to respond to the needs and rights of students and their families; however, because the process requires some sort of change, it often results in personnel feeling alienated and/or antagonized” (Murry 2005, p. 414).

Child advocacy agencies and organizations enjoy greater influence than they ever imagined three decades ago. Greater power brings greater responsibility. The rights-friendly environment and the unprecedented influence of human rights groups yield new challenges for those groups on a number of levels. The effectiveness f child advocacy agencies are that they have to confront new and diverse concerns, identify new advocacy targets, and develop new methods.

Campaigns over oppression and child abuse have largely been supplanted by more diverse struggles over different types of rights (Palfrey, 2006). Human rights advocates everywhere will increasingly need to consider strategies and tactics in light of this more diverse community. The proliferation of “rights networks” has spawned multiple competing agendas. Now that most governments in the world must at least take children’s rights into consideration in formulating policies, political battles have shifted from the recognition of rights to the ranking of rights—from “whether” rights to “which” rights. According to Coleman (2005):

child welfare investigations, including home visits and unsupervised examinations of children, have as their ultimate purpose the safety and health of children. Both the “delivery” of narcotics to a fetus and the abuse or neglect of a child are violations of civil and criminal laws. Civil child welfare officials, … thus serve in part as agents for law enforcement when they pursue their investigations; at a minimum, they are conduits” (p. 415).

Child advocacy is effective because it involves school, community, and home environments and aimed to support children and protect their rights. Children’s rights advocates change state behavior by successfully targeting, and benefiting from, international organizations.

As power over the conditions of labor, capital, and even coercion is accumulated in intergovernmental organizations, regional and international organizations, and multinational corporations, transnational advocacy will have to continue to develop new strategies and tactics (Palfrey, 2006). The most important role of norms in these agencies is the successful encouragement and creation of new norms of practice by the environmental campaign; around the treatment of children to be resettled for -financed projects; and around transparency and accountability (Sagatum and Edwards, 1995). Their records are widely varied, and, in general, their calls to expand their roles, responsibilities, and mandates have been more successful than strategies that seek to limit their mandates or influence (Wallace, 2004).


In sum, statistical results and state reports show that child advocacy is effective because it helps to reduce child abuse cases and protect children from violence and unfair treatment. As yet, there is no available research on the child-care function of empanadas, nor on the patterns of interaction established between them and small children, in the various kinds of families. Child advocacy agencies are the main organizations able to monitor and protect children from neglect and abuse, from poverty and forced labor practices. The existing system of nondomestic child-care services is extremely complex and confusing.

Overlapping of attributions is commonplace; also, a large part of these services do not undergo any kind of visualization by governmental agencies. Over the years, this complexity has become progressively greater, as a result of the growing but the haphazard response to popular pressure for education and child care on the part of public authorities. In this way, expansion occurs but is not accompanied by corresponding efforts in the institutional area, with the purpose of avoiding parallel action, incoherent orientations, and the consequent misspending and waste of funds. The aim of child advocates is to protect the human rights of children and their welfare.

The effectiveness of child advocacy is that it covers all areas of life and activities. Child advocates monitor and support schools, the community and parents. Heterogeneity and parallelism of action among child-care providing programs and agencies, combined with large social disparities in the user population, account for the many differences found between existing day-care or preschool services. When these are connected to the educational system, as is the case of most public and private preschools, a minimum level of personnel qualification is normally assured, and educational objectives are generally more emphasized. In the case of child advocacy, emphasis is placed on the security and human rights aspects.


The Children’s Bureau. (2008)US Department of Health and Human Services. Web.

Coleman, D. C. Storming the Castle to Save the Children: The Ironic Costs of a Child Welfare Exception to the Fourth Amendment. William and Mary Law Review, 47, 2005, pp. 413-416.

Courter, G. (1996). I Speak For This Child: True Stories of a Child Advocate. Three Rivers Press.

Hubner, J., Wolfson, J. (2003). Somebody Else’s Children: The Courts, The Kids, and The Struggle to Save America’s Troubled Families. Authors Choice Press.

Kumari, V., Brooks, S. L. (2004). Creative Child Advocacy: Global Perspectives. Sage Publications Pvt. Ltd; 1 edition.

Murry, F. R. Effective Advocacy for Students with Emotional/behavioral Disorders: How High the Cost? Education & Treatment of Children, 28, 2005, pp. 414.

Palfrey, J. S. (2006) Child Health in America: Making a Difference through Advocacy. The Johns Hopkins University Press; 1 edition.

Sagatum, I., Edwards, L. (1995). Child Abuse and the Legal System. Wadsworth Publishing; 1 edition.

Wallace, H. (2004). Family Violence: Legal, Medical, and Social Perspectives (4th Edition). Allyn & Bacon; 4 edition.

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