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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Public Law Outline (PLO)

The Public Law Outline is a legal framework put in place by the Ministry of Justice. It aims to provide guidance for the family court on how to manage cases involving care proceedings.

The Public Law Outline is set out in practice guidance for the family court – Practice Direction 12A. It includes timescales for the courts to follow for each stage of the process, up to the final hearing.

Guidance for children’s services requires social workers to go through the pre-proceedings process with a family before starting court proceedings (except in an emergency). The Public Law Outline says the court must check at the first hearing that this ‘pre-proceedings’ work has been done.

The Public Law Outline also makes clear that care proceedings should be completed within 26 weeks. The judge can extend the 26-week deadline. Any extension must be necessary in order to resolve the case fairly; extensions should not be granted routinely.

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