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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Do parents have a choice whether to have a child in need assessment?

Yes. Child in need assessments are voluntary. This means that parents or carers do not have to agree to have an assessment.  Remember, a child in need assessment aims to find out what extra help and services a child and their family need.  It is about making sure a child has what they need to be healthy and develop well. Help and services following a child in need assessment may prevent needs and difficulties escalating.

If a parent or carer feels that they do not want a child in need assessment it may be a good idea for them to:

  • Take time to think about any worries they have about the assessment
  • Note down the worries and any questions
  • Speak to the social worker who is, or will be, doing the assessment (or another practitioner) about these
  • Ask for further information about the assessment process
  • Ask for further information about what may happen after the assessment
  • Ask them what they would do if you decided not to agree to the assessment.

If a parent or carer does not agree to an assessment, the social worker involved may:

  • Become more worried
  • Become concerned that the family and child will not get the help they need
  • Worry that the child and family may struggle, and things may get worse
  • Look at whether children’s services need to start child protection enquiries or hold a child protection conference.

If a parent or carer decides they want to refuse an assessment, it is good idea if they:

  • Show how the child’s needs are being met in some other way e.g. finding suitable services and help themselves
  • Share this information with the social worker
  • Contact Family Rights Group for independent advice about their specific situation, visiting our Parents forum is a good first step
  • Get some independent legal advice about their situation from a solicitor.
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