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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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Placing a child for adoption: what must children’s services do?

Placement for adoption means that the adoption agency formally arranges for a child to live with. Adoption agencies assess people who want to adopt children (prospective adopters), to make sure they are suitable. An 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.

Before a child can be placed with a family who wants to adopt them, children’s services and the Family Court have to follow certain legal procedures. These are explained in The Adoption and Children Act 2002.

It says children’s services can only place a child with a family for adoption if:

Even if the Agency Decision Maker has approved a plan for a child to be placed for adoption, the adoption agency cannot actually act on the plan unless the court makes a placement order.

But, remember, these procedures do not need to be followed in the same way where a child is being cared for in a foster for adoption placement.

Important information about foster for adoption

Foster for adoption is a type of foster care used when adoption is being considered for a child and it:

  • Involves babies and younger children who are looked after in the care system living with foster carers who may go on to adopt them
  • Is allowed even though adoption is not yet the formal plan for the child
  • Can happen even when the Family Court is not involved and has not agreed.

The idea is that the child is able to form a strong, early relationship with the people who may go on to be adopt them.

Children’s services and the court have to follow strict legal procedures before a child can live with a family who wants to adopt them. But the law and process is different if children’s services want to place a child in a foster for adoption placement.

So it is very important that any parent who thinks children’s services may be proposing their child is cared for in a foster for adoption placement urgently:

Our Foster for adoption: information for parents advice sheet covers:

  • What foster for adoption means, including implications for parents and the child
  • What needs to happen before a child is placed in a foster for adoption placement

What parents should do if a social worker tells them they want to place their child in a foster for adoption placement.

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