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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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Achieving permanence is the long-term aim for every looked after child. The aim of planning for permanence is to ensure every child has a secure, stable and loving family to support them through childhood and beyond and to give them a sense of security.

From the day a child first becomes looked after, achieving permanence should be the aim of children’s services. A key function of each child’s care plan is to ensure a plan for permanence is in place by the time of the second review meeting.

Permanence for a child means living in a situation where they can form strong and healthy emotional attachments with carers. Those carers should be in a position to give them a sense of security, continuity, commitment and identity. It also means legal permanence.

There are a range of options for achieving permanence for children, and all can deliver good outcomes. What matters is finding the right option for each child. What is right for one child may not be right for another.

Permanence options are:

  • Returning to the family home. When a child returns home, the parents and family should where necessary receive support from children’s services and other agencies to resolve any family problems. Children’s services should support them to make sure the reasons the child became looked after in the first place are no longer a risk to the child. Most children who become looked after return home to live with their parents.
  • Kinship care. Living with relatives or friends on a long-term basis might be under a long-term foster care arrangement. It might also be under a special guardianship order or child arrangements order.
  • Long-term foster care with unrelated foster carers.
  • Living in residential care in a children’s home – not every child who cannot live with their family wants to live in an alternative family arrangement.
  • Adoption.
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