How to contact us for advice

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Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

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By phone or email

To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

Discuss on our forums

Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

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Care plan

A care plan is a written plan setting out the arrangements for a child who is looked after. Every looked after child must have a care plan.

The care plan should be a detailed plan which covers how all a child’s current needs will be met and the arrangements for the child’s care now and into the future.

A key function of the care plan is to ensure that each child has a plan for permanence by the time of the second looked after child review meeting.

The care plan must set out:

  • Where the child will live and why this is what’s best for them (this is also set out in the child’s placement plan)
  • Long-term plans for the child, including timescales (the permanence plan)
  • How the child’s needs will be met, including their education, health and developmental needs, including social and emotional development (health plan and personal education plan)
  • Contact arrangements – with their parents, siblings and wider family and friends’ network.
  • The name of the child’s independent reviewing officer. Whilst the Care Planning Regulations do not specifically require it, it is also sensible for the care plan to contain contact details for the independent reviewing officer.

Before the care plan is drawn up, the social worker must carry out an assessment of the child’s needs (following the local protocol for assessment). This will include their health, education and developmental needs, and needs relating to the child’s religion or culture.

The social worker must also find out the wishes and feelings of the parents, the child and other people who are important in the child’s life. Their views should be recorded in the care plan.

Care plans must be reviewed regularly at looked after child review meetings.

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