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). For Textphone dial 18001 followed by the advice line number. 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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How does an adoption agency decide who to place a child with?

Adoption agencies assess people who want to adopt children (prospective adopters), to make sure they are suitable. They help them to become good adoptive parents. The adoption agency will either be within a local authority (which will have children in its care). Or they might be an independent organisation, called a voluntary adoption agency

The adoption agency can then place a child to live with prospective adopters only once either:

  • All parent with parental responsibility have given formal agreement to the placement, or
  • A placement order has been made by the Family Court.

The adoption agency will look at profiles of prospective adopters they have approved to see if they are suitable to meet the needs of the child. When the agency finds a person or couple who they think will be a good ‘fit’ for the child, they will ask the adoption panel to look at this option. This is called approving the ‘match’.

It is important for parents to tell the social worker what they think their child’s needs are.

This will help the match between the prospective adopters and the child is a good one. Parents may find talking about this really difficult and upsetting. Even if they are agreeing to the adoption. So, thinking through with a trusted friend or family member how to best to share information, may be a good idea.

Parents may want to:

  • Share their views about the kind of person they might want their child to live with
  • Think about what arrangements they would like to be in place for their child to remain in touch with their birth family
  • Tell the adoption agency the kind of person they might want their child to live with

Put their thoughts and views in writing to the adoption panel. This might include putting together information for the child (for example, contributing to their ‘life story book’). For more information about this, see our advice sheet on Post-adoption contact.

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