How do I Choose the Best Advocate Program?

Tess C. Taylor

Choosing the best advocate program depends upon who needs an advocate. There are many advocate agencies available to the public for a variety of social and legal matters. These advocate programs can include criminal, youth, legal, medical, victim, elderly, disability and court appointed advocacy programs, most often found in local telephone directories or through referrals from human services agencies.

A patient advocate ensures that a patient receives proper medical care.
A patient advocate ensures that a patient receives proper medical care.

Criminal and legal advocates work to protect the rights of those involved in legal or criminal cases or disputes. Advocates often represent victims of crimes or work with disadvantaged parties in criminal and family court and legal cases. If you are facing a legal, family, or criminal case and need assistance with legal advice, support or guidance, then a criminal or legal advocate program is generally what you will need.

A healthcare advocate may work with the patient to get her insurance to cover prescription medication costs.
A healthcare advocate may work with the patient to get her insurance to cover prescription medication costs.

Youth advocates generally work to protect and support young people who have no other means of defending themselves or finding the resources they need to thrive. In many regions, finding a youth advocate program is made easier by a network of resources provided by area human services and family agencies. Oftentimes, courts will assign court-appointed advocates who represent clients on a case-by-case basis due to lack of parental or family resources and support.

Advocates might work with abused youth.
Advocates might work with abused youth.

In many regions there are also advocate programs that work primarily with the elderly or disabled population. Advocates work with area agencies to provide basic living, social and economic resources for aging or disabled people who have difficulty living on their own or have limited family to help them. Many times, elderly and disabled citizens are eligible for programs to support their physical, economic, medical, and emotional needs.

Advocates may try to help people stop engaging in destructive behaviors.
Advocates may try to help people stop engaging in destructive behaviors.

Health care advocates work with patients who need added support or representation due to challenges with their special medical care or insurance claims. In most hospitals and health care facilities, medical advocates work with patients and their families to ensure adequate care is provided so that they are treated fairly and have the best chance of having a better quality of life. Oftentimes, health care advocates manage cases and work as a liaison between physicians and insurance companies.

Advocate programs may emphasize physical care of the elderly.
Advocate programs may emphasize physical care of the elderly.

When making the decision to work with an advocate, it is important to identify the individual needs of the person to be represented. In some cases, courts or care facilities will appoint an advocate automatically to simplify this process. If in doubt about what advocate program to choose, consult with a trusted care provider or a social and human services agency.

Child advocates make sure children in the community have adequate food and shelter.
Child advocates make sure children in the community have adequate food and shelter.
Some advocate programs work specifically with people who are disabled.
Some advocate programs work specifically with people who are disabled.
Medical advocates may approach doctors to push for more effective or alternative treatments.
Medical advocates may approach doctors to push for more effective or alternative treatments.
Advocate may work with women who have been physically abused.
Advocate may work with women who have been physically abused.

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