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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When might a child be a child in need?

A disabled child will be classed as a child in need. Other children may be in need if they need help from children’s services to be healthy or to develop properly (see section 17(10) Children Act 1989).

Health and development are explained in section 17(11) of the Children Act 1989. Health doesn’t just mean a child’s physical health. It includes mental health. Development means a child developing the skills and abilities they should at their age. This includes their physical development and their intellectual, emotional, social and behavioural progress.

Here are some further examples of when a child may be a child in need of extra help or services:

  • Children with significant emotional and behavioural difficulties.
  • Children at risk of exclusion from school.
  • Children and young people with significant caring responsibilities.
  • Children without accommodation or living in an unsafe physical environment.
  • Some children in detention.
  • Vulnerable teenagers where relationships have broken down at home.
  • Unaccompanied children from abroad.
  • Children who persistently self-harm or run away.
  • Children returning home from care to live with their families.

See our Children with disabilities and children with special educational needs page for further information about the help and support for disabled children.

For more information and advice about how children’s services should work with and support young carers, see our frequently asked questions about Young carers.

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