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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Legal planning meeting

This is an internal meeting called by children’s services when a social worker is concerned that children’s services might need to apply for a court order to protect a child.

The meeting will be chaired by a senior manager. The child’s social worker will explain their concerns. A lawyer from children’s services will attend to provide legal advice to the social work team. Together, they will decide what they think is in the child’s best interests.

They may consider some of the following options:

  • Give the parents more support and time to improve their parenting, or work with the child if they are beyond parental control.
  • Further work with the family to identify and assess someone else in the child’s wider family who may be able to care for them.
  • Seek the parents’ agreement for the child to live with someone else straightaway, perhaps until the case is ready for the first court hearing.
  • Apply to the court for an order to remove the child from the parents’ care.

Because it is an internal meeting with the social work team and their lawyer, parents will not be invited nor entitled to any papers from the meeting. However, the parents should be sent a letter telling them what was decided and the next steps that will be taken. This might be a letter before proceedings or a letter of issue (which confirms that children’s services are starting care proceedings).

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