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). For Textphone dial 18001 followed by the advice line number. 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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Foster care

Foster care is a looked after child placed by children’s services with another adult. This person will have responsibility for the daily care of the child. They will welcome the child as a part of their household.

The foster carer must have been assessed and approved by children’s services (or an independent fostering agency) as suitable to provide foster care. This may be as a temporary foster carer or a fully approved foster carer.

Approval as a foster carer may relate to a specific child. For example with kinship foster carers. Or the foster carer may be approved to looked after children generally. Foster care might be provided for a short time. For example, they might care for a child until they are able to return to their birth family or until an appropriate permanent placement is identified. Foster care can also be a long-term arrangement.

Foster carers are expected to treat the child as a member of their own family. Foster carers are paid a fostering allowance.

There are different types of foster care, and foster carers can be approved for more than one child or for sibling groups. Some foster carers are trained as specialists in one (or more) of these areas, and some have specialist skills in therapeutic interventions.

The different types of foster care include:

  • Emergency foster care – when a child is placed somewhere safe for a few nights and at very short notice
  • Long-term foster care – when a child who cannot return to their birth family is placed with a foster carer until they leave care
  • Respite care – when a child (often a disabled child) goes to stay with foster carers so that their family (or permanent carers) can have a break
  • Family and friends care (also known as kinship care) – when a relative or family friend becomes a foster carer for a child who cannot live with their parents.
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