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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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Looked after child review

A looked after child review is a regular meeting that takes place for every child who is looked after in the care system.

Review meetings are chaired by the child’s independent reviewing officer (often referred to as the ‘IRO’). The main purpose is to check that the care plan is working well for the child. The meeting is an opportunity to consider whether any changes need to be made to the child’s care plan. Meetings are also an opportunity for parents to raise any concerns they may have.

The sorts of things that should be discussed at each review meeting include:

  • The effect of any changes in the child’s circumstances since the last review
  • Whether decisions taken at the last review have been implemented
  • Contact arrangements, and whether they are working well
  • The child’s progress at school and whether the child is getting all the support they need
  • Any health needs
  • Whether arrangements for the child’s leisure interests and activities are meeting the child’s needs.

Government guidance and regulations specify how often meetings should take place. The first review must be held within four weeks of a child becoming looked after. The second should take place within three months of the first review. After that, meetings must be held at least every six months for as long as the child is looked after.

These are minimum requirements, however. Review meetings should take place more often if necessary. If there have been any significant changes in a child’s life, for example, then the date of the review should be brought forward. Children’s services must not make any significant change to the care plan unless it has been considered at a review.

As well as the independent reviewing officer (who chairs the meeting), a looked after review will normally be attended by:

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