The role of the Children’s Independent Sexual Violence Advocate (CISVA) is to provide immediate emotional and practical support to a child or young person following disclosure of sexual harm and/or abuse. The CISVA will provide support via a parent or carer if the child is unable to engage.

The CISVA is an independent worker who acts as a direct point of contact for the child or family, and liaises with the police, social care and other agencies about the ongoing investigation, whilst advocating for the client’s needs. This can also include talking to the client about the pros and cons of making a formal complaint and providing an achieving best evidence (ABE) interview to the police.

The CISVA continues to provide support throughout the criminal justice process, including arranging any special measures and/or pre-recorded evidence via Section 28, and attending court with the client. The level of support offered is dependent on each client’s assessed needs.

The CISVA remains independent of all other agencies and does not discuss any details of the abuse with the client.

Making a referral

Referral criteria

A referral can be made when a disclosure of sexual abuse and/or harm has just been reported by a child or young person and is being investigated by the police/social care. The referrer needs to ensure they've gained consent, as CISVA are a voluntary service that can be declined by the client, parent or carer. There isn’t a waiting list for CISVA and contact will be made within 48 hours of the referral being received.

The majority of CISVA referrals are made by the police and children’s social care. However, any agency can make a referral for CISVA support. It doesn’t matter how many referrals they receive for the child, as long as they receive it. An ideal opportunity would be for CISVA referral to be added as an agenda item at strategy meetings held in response to a disclosure of sexual abuse/harm. It can then be clearly agreed who will make the referral and by when.

How to make a referral

You can make a CISVA referral online.

Accessing therapeutic wellbeing or formal therapy

Referral criteria

A young person is eligible for therapeutic wellbeing or formal therapy through Barnsley Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Services (BSARCS) if they:

  • are aged 0 to 17 years
  • live in Barnsley
  • have experienced sexual abuse where the abuse has been reported or investigated by the police or social care and where any criminal proceedings have concluded

Referrals are also accepted for young people who have been impacted by sexual abuse (for example, a child whose father has abused a half-sibling).

Referrals are accepted from professionals, parents, carers and self-referrals as long as the above criteria have been met. Professionals need to call (01226) 320140 and will be talked through how to complete the referral form and return it through a secure link. The returned referral is screened to see which support is most suitable for the client to access. Parents, carers or self-referrals can also be made by contacting BSARCS who will then call you back.

There's an 8-week waiting list for therapy and emotional wellbeing support. BSARCS is a systemic, trauma-informed service that undertakes work with parents and carers of clients, including joint sessions where required, liaising with schools and other key professionals in order to help the client recover from the trauma of sexual harm. They also offer a trauma-informed parenting group to parents/carers of clients using the service.

In relation to pre-trial therapy, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) are in the process of issuing new guidance in relation to services being able to offer this to clients prior to them providing their Section 28 evidence. As an agency, BSARCS will give this full consideration and hope to be in a position where they're able to offer this, especially as matters are taking in excess of 2.5 years to reach trial.


Follow ups and contact point

The referrer is responsible for contacting BSARCS 72 hours after submitting the above referrals to confirm receipt.

BSARCS will contact the joint investigation team (JIT) and assessment team service manager if they become aware of any clients who haven't been referred for CISVA support when they were eligible for the service.