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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Parallel planning

During the early stages of a child becoming looked after, the best option for their long-term care may not yet be clear. Children’s services will need to consider more than one possible permanent placement for the child at the same time. This is known as parallel planning.

The aim of parallel planning is to avoid any delays in achieving permanence for the child.

Children’s services will do the following:

  • Work with the family to see whether the child can return home to live with the parents.
  • At the same time – assess other family members who the child might live with if they cannot return home.

This means that if the child cannot return home, the child can move to a long-term placement more quickly. The assessment process for the new carers will already complete, or at least underway.

Where planning options include a long-term foster placement or adoption, children’s services would need a care order or placement order to go ahead with these. If they are considering adoption, they could place a child with foster carers who are also approved as prospective adopters (see fostering for adoption).

Parallel planning is sometimes also referred to as twin-track planning or contingency planning.

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