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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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Section 34 contact order

This is a court order that says who a child in care (so, looked after under a care order or interim care order) should see or keep in touch with. These orders are made under section 34 of the Children Act 1989.

Under Section 34, children’s services must allow the child to have ‘reasonable contact’ with:

These people can apply for a  section 34 contact order if they feel children’s services are not agreeing a reasonable level of contact. Other relatives who are not listed in section 34 may also be able to apply for an order. But they would first need to obtain the court’s permission. This is known as asking for the ‘leave of the court‘.

A section 34 contact order is sometimes very straightforward. It may simply say that contact between the child and named person should take place.

A contact order can also include specific conditions and directions. For example:

  • Where contact should take place
  • On what dates, or
  • Whether other specified people should be present during direct face-to-face contact, or that contact should be indirect only.

If a child is looked after in the care system under a voluntary arrangement then a section 34 contact order cannot be made.

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