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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Secure children’s home

Secure children’s homes are residential homes for vulnerable children aged between 10 and 17. These homes restrict children’s liberty in order to ensure their safety. Secure children’s homes are run by local authorities, voluntary organisations, or they are privately run.

All secure children’s homes have a low children-to-staff ratio. This means intensive support can be provided for every child. Each home has its own school on site. These schools must provide at least 25 hours of education a week.

Children are placed in a secure children’s home for one of two reasons:

  • They have been remanded or sentenced to custody. In this scenario, it is usually younger children (aged under 13) and those who are considered vulnerable who are sent to a secure children’s home. They may be placed here rather than, for example, a youth offending institution. Secure children’s homes are one of three types of youth detention accommodation. Not all secure children’s homes provide accommodation for children in custody, however.
  • They are looked after and are placed there on welfare grounds by children’s services to keep them safe. This will be under section 25 of the Children Act 1989. See secure accommodation order.

Every child in a secure children’s home, whether placed under section 25 or remanded or sentenced by the courts, is a looked after child and will have an assigned social worker.

Authorisation by the Secretary of State is needed before a child under age 13 can be placed in a secure children’s home. Secure children’s homes are sometimes referred to as ‘secure units’. See also secure accommodation.

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