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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Independent review mechanism

This is an independent body whose role is to review decisions:

  • By a fostering service not to approve someone as a foster carer
  • By an adoption agency not to approve someone as a prospective adopter.
  • To withdraw approval.
  • To change the terms of a foster carer’s existing approval.

Any foster carer or prospective adopter whose application has been rejected can use the mechanism to appeal. Or they can write to the fostering service or adoption agency directly. They cannot do both.

The independent review mechanism does not have the power to force a change in decision. But it can recommend that the fostering service or adoption agency reaches a different decision. The provider or agency will still make the final decision. They should take the independent review mechanism panel’s advice into account though.

The independent review mechanism panel will include:

The independent review mechanism is run by Coram Children’s Legal Centre (a charity) on behalf of the Department for Education.

There is no right of appeal for anyone whose application to become a foster carer was turned down because they (or someone in their household) has a criminal conviction for certain offences. These are specified in regulations. They are mostly sexual offences, including against children.

For more information see:

Independent Review Mechanism.

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