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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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Core group meeting

A core group is a group of key practitioners and family members.

What is the role and responsibilities of the core group?

Their role is to develop the outline plan made at the end of a child protection conference. This is so that it becomes a full child protection plan and includes the day-to-day actions and details.

The core group is responsible for making sure the plan is followed and regularly reviewed. The group should monitor progress and refine the plan if needed.

When should a core group meet?

A first core group meeting must be held within 10 days of the initial child protection conference (Working Together 2018, page 52). Local child protection procedures will say how often the core group should meet thereafter. The social worker or conference Chair can be asked about this.

What is the role of a social worker in the core group?

Every child who is the subject of a child protection plan should have a lead social worker allocated to them. The lead social work is responsible for leading the core group, including arranging meetings and leading the core group as it develops the outline plan into a full child protection plan.

The lead social worker is also responsible for:

  • Providing direct support to the child and the family
  • Explaining and agreeing (as appropriate) the child protection plan with the child
  • Co-ordinating the work other practitioners do to support the family
  • Making sure what has been agreed in the plan is being carried out and on time
  • Government guidance says that if a child has links to a foreign country, the social worker should look at whether they need to inform the relevant embassy (see Working Together 2018, page 52. This applies where a child has dual nationality or if they are a British child of foreign parents/national origin. Government guidance called Working with foreign authorities: child protection cases and care orders points out that the embassy may be able to help the social worker to work with a family and explain any differences in approach to child protection matters.
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