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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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Parent carer’s needs assessment

The Children and Families Act 2014 amended the Children Act 1989 to give any parent who is caring for a disabled child the right to an assessment of their own need for support. This is called a parent carer’s needs assessment.

Any parent who is caring for a disabled child can ask for a parent carer’s needs assessment. This will be carried out by the local authority.

By law, the local authority has a duty to carry out an assessment whenever it appears to a social worker that a parent carer may need support. So even if the parent has not asked for an assessment.

A parent carer’s needs assessment must consider:

  • Whether the parent of a disabled child needs support. If so, what that support might be.
  • The parent carer’s well-being. Among other things, this should include looking at the impact of caring for the child on the parent’s:
    • physical and mental health and their emotional wellbeing
    • ability to work and take part in leisure activities
    • social and economic wellbeing
    • family and other personal relationships.
  • Whether it is appropriate for the parent to continue to provide care for the child in the light of the parent’s need for support and wishes, and what support they might need to ensure they can continue to care for the child.
  • The need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, and the welfare of any other children in the family.

Any other adult in the family (i.e. not a parent of the child) who is providing ‘regular and substantial care’ for the child can also ask for an assessment. They must do so under different legislation – the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995.

After the assessment, the local authority must decide whether the parent has support needs, whether the child has support needs and how it is going to meet those needs (including whether needs can be met through a child in need plan under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989).

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