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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Advice Sheets

Our advice sheets aim to build on the information on our main Who?, What? and Why? advice pages. They provide more in-depth advice on topics that families involved with children’s services or the Family Court might need guidance about.

A parent, for example, might need to know more about contact with their child in care. A relative might need a step-by-step guide to applying to become a special guardians of a child in their family network. Our advice sheets can help.

In addition to the advice sheets, families may want to look at our main advice page, at our Top tips and Templates for families, which provide practical guidance on topics such as Working with a social worker and useful templates letters that families can adapt to write to children’s services their situation or concerns.

1. Children looked after in the care system

In England, some children are looked after in the care system under voluntary arrangements. Other children enter and remain looked after in the care system under a court order.  Children’s services have specific duties to looked after children. The advice sheets below address some specific topics for the parents or carers of children who are looked after.

2. Kinship care

Kinship carers are relatives or friends raising children who are unable to live with their parents. Our Kinship carer pages explains more about kinship care and the different types of kinship care arrangements that exist. The page provide important information about practical help and financial support. It is aimed at kinship carers, and those who are considering taking on the care of a child from within their network.

Our advice sheets below provide more detailed advice to kinship carers. It includes advice for special guardians and kinship foster carers. We also provide information to parents whose children are in kinship care. These are short, easy to follow advice sheets to provide key information.

There are also some longer DIY guides for relatives and friends who are considering applying to court for a special guardianship order. Or for a child arrangements order.

Our Top tips and templates page also includes a number of letters that kinship carers can use to communicate with children’s services about their entitlement to support.

3. Adoption

Adoption is the legal process of a child becoming a permanent member of a new family. The Adoption page on the advice section of our website provides more information and advice for birth families. These advice sheets provide more detailed, specialist advice for parents whose children may be adopted.

4. Leaving the care system

Children’s services have duties towards looked after children who leave care to return to parents or wider family. Or who are leaving care as young adults. The advice sheets below explain those duties. And the legal duties that apply where the young person is an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child.

There are a number of specialist organisations which support young people in or who have left the care system. See our Useful links page for more information.

5. Challenging decisions

If families do not agree with a decision made by children’s services, or a social worker, they can make a complaint. For detailed information about how to complain or challenge decisions made by children’s services see our Complaints page. Parents or kinship carers who want to complain about a decision or the way a child protection conference has been run should see our Child Protection page.

Below we provide advice sheets with introductory information about other ways of challenging decisions made by the courts and local councils, including children’s services departments.

6. Requesting information from children’s services

The advice sheets in this section explain how parents and kinship carers can request to see what personal information children’s services hold about them and their child/ren. They also provide information about making a Freedom of Information request to children’s services.

Advice sheets page feedback request:


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