Role of the OCA
The OCA is mandated to protect and enforce the rights of children while promoting their well-being. The operations of the Office are guided by the Child Care and Protection Act (2004).
The responsibilities of the Office of the Children’s Advocate are stipulated by the First Schedule to the Child Care and Protection Act (2004) and can be summarized as follows:
Functions of the OCA
- Provide legal representation for children who need it. These children can be referred by the court or may come to the attention of the OCA by other means.
- Institute non-criminal court proceedings before a court or tribunal on behalf of a child.
- Intervene in any legal proceedings (including criminal) before a court or tribunal which concern the rights or best interests of children.
- Consult with children and their caregivers about the role and functions of the OCA and about current issues that may affect them.
- Review the quality and effectiveness of services provided for children by relevant authorities. For example, educational institutions, State children’s homes and juvenile correctional facilities.
- Keep under review the adequacy and effectiveness of law, practice and policies relating to the rights and best interests of children.
- Provide assistance (including financial assistance) to children who need to make a complaint against a relevant authority that has infringed their rights and/or adversely affected their best interests.
- Maintain proper records of complaints received while dealing in a confidential manner the personal details of the children mentioned in any issue. The privacy of all children is respected.
- To investigate ANY allegation that a child’s rights and/or best interests have been negatively impacted or breached. The extent of this authority includes even Government entities and/or their agents and representatives.
- Initiate investigations once the Advocate determines that it is necessary so to do.
- Inspect institutions in which children are accommodated to ensure that minimum standards are maintained.
Educational and Advisory
- Educate the public, especially children, about the role and functions of the OCA and how they may communicate with the OCA.
- Give advice and make recommendations to Parliament, Ministers of Government or any relevant authority on any matter concerning the rights and best interests of children.