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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Where is the law about children in need?

The law about children in need is found in two main places:

  • Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, and
  • Government statutory guidance about agencies working to keep children safe and well. This is called Working Together to safeguard children 2018. It must be followed unless there is good reason not to (R v Islington LBC ex p Rixon [1998] 1 CCLR 119).

Section 17 of the Children Act 1989 places a general legal duty on children’s services departments to work to keep children safe, well cared for and, at home unless this would place them at risk. To help achieve this, children’s services must provide a range and level of services in their local area to help children in need and their families (section 17(1) Children Act 1989).

The law also says all children’s services departments should take steps to:

  • Must provide a range and level of services available to help children in need and their families (section 17(1) Children Act 1989).
  • Find out which children are in need in their area (Schedule 2, Children Act 1989).
  • Share information about the help they can give to any child who is a child in need (Schedule 2, Children Act 1899, para 1(2)(a)).
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