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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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Supervision order

A supervision order is a court order that places a duty on children’s services to ‘advise, assist and befriend’ a child and their family for a specified time. In practice, this means that a social worker will continue to visit a family regularly. There will be some element of them monitoring how the child and family are. Where there might still be some concerns about a child’s safety or welfare, this order seeks to provide a higher level of support than if no order were made.

Supervision orders are made under section 31 of the Children Act 1989. For a court to make a supervision order, the threshold criteria must be met. The court must be satisfied the child is at risk of significant harm and that this is a result of the care being given at home, or the child being beyond the parents’ control. Unlike a care order, a supervision order does not give parental responsibility to children’s services. It does not give children’s services the power to remove the child from the family home.

Sometimes children’s services will ask the court to attach directions to the supervision order. For example, the court may direct that the child:

  • Lives in a particular place. This may be necessary if a child has been repeatedly returning to the home of a person who is a risk to the child, for example.
  • Takes part in education. This may be necessary if a child has a history of not turning up for school.
  • Undergoes a specific medical or mental health assessment, or attends medical appointments. This may be necessary if a child is self-harming or has a diagnosed mental health problem.

A supervision order can last for up to one year, although the court has the power to extend this for a further two years.

For more information see our advice pages on:

Care (and related) proceedings

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