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). 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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Pre-proceedings process

This refers to the procedures that children’s services must follow if they are thinking about starting care proceedings. These procedures are set in the Public Law Outline (often referred to as the ‘PLO’). This is the legal framework which sets out the duties that children’s services have and the processes they must follow when they are thinking about taking a case to court.

The first step children’s services should take is to send a letter before proceedings to the parents (and anyone else who has parental responsibility). This letter will invite them to a ‘pre-proceedings meeting’. Social workers and solicitors sometimes call this a ‘PLO meeting’.

The pre-proceedings process is a chance for parents and children’s services to work together. The aim is to get to a point where children’s services are satisfied that the parents can care for their child safely. If the concerns are around the child or young person being beyond parental control, then the process will focus on how to ensure their safety.

During the pre-proceedings process, the parents will be assessed (for example through a parenting assessment, if that hasn’t already happened). This should also be an opportunity for children’s services to put in place support for the family, where needed.

See our Pre-proceedings page for more information and advice about the pre-proceedings process.

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