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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Private fostering

Private fostering is when a child under the age of 16 (or under 18 if they are disabled) is cared for under a private arrangement by someone who is not their parent or a close relative, and the arrangement lasts for 28 days or longer. A close relative is: a grandparent, aunt or uncle, sibling or stepparent.

When a child is being privately fostered, the child’s parents and the private foster carer must tell children’s services. It is an offence not to notify children’s services. Parents and private foster carers often do not know this.

A social worker will visit the private foster carer’s home within seven days to make sure the placement is suitable. They will need to be satisfied that the child is safe and well cared for. They will speak to the private foster carer and other members of the household. They will also speak to the child. The social worker will continue to visit the child regularly for as long as the child is privately fostered.

When a child is being fostered privately, parental responsibility remains with the child’s parents. It is not shared with the private foster carer, although the private foster carer can make day-to-day decisions.

Private fostering situations can arise for a number of reasons. For example:

  • A child who is sent to this country for health care or for education and their birth parents are living overseas
  • A child who is living with a friend’s family as a result of parental separation or arguments at home
  • A teenager who is living with the family of a boyfriend or girlfriend.
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