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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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Social work evidence template

This is a standard form that children’s services should use as a guide when applying to the court to start care proceedings. It contains a statement from the social worker summarising their concerns. It must include the points that children’s services rely on to demonstrate to the court that the threshold criteria are met. This ‘threshold statement’ provides the court with an outline of the facts that children’s services will seek to establish during proceedings. For example, a list of incidents that children’s services consider amount to evidence of neglect or abuse. Children’s services will rely on these when seeking to persuade the court that the threshold criteria for seeking a court order has been met.

The social work evidence template should also include:

  • An explanation to the court as to what orders are being sought. This includes whether children’s services are asking the court to make interim orders at the outset of proceedings. For example an interim care order.
  • An analysis of the impact on the child of what has been happening in their life. This should include the child’s wishes and feelings.
  • An assessment of the child’s needs and the parents’ ability to meet those needs.
  • An analysis of the pros and cons of all possible options for the child’s care. This will be both on an interim and long-term basis. It must include whether there are family or friends who may be able to care for the child.

The aim of the social work evidence template is to ensure that social workers submit clear evidence to the court and other parties as to why children’s services think a court order is in the child’s best interests. The format of the social work evidence template aims to ensure that the application made on behalf of children’s services meets all the requirements of the public law outline from the outset. This can help to avoid any delay for the child.

The social work evidence template incorporates the social work chronology and statement, the genogram and the welfare checklist.

Use of the social work evidence template is not compulsory. However, its use is recommended by senior judges, the government, Cafcass and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Service.

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