Source: (2002) European Journal of Social Work. 5(3): 287-299.

The notion of independent advocacy does not sit easily with the principles of family group conferences (FGC). The integrity of conferencing is in the competency of the family members to make their own decisions. The challenge of enabling the voice and agency of children and young people within their own family networks however is formidable. The familial nexus can be as institutionally excluding as any other adult forum. This paper focuses on the work of a FGC project in Wiltshire, England, which used a small grant to provide independent advocacy for children and young people involved in conferences. Drawing on an evaluation of the project, the article argues that distinguishing children and young people's power from parental and professional power permits their empowerment through the use of advocacy.