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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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Should children’s services involve parents or carers during child protection enquiries and assessments? How?

Yes. Parents should be involved. Children’s services must make sure that they get all the relevant information from the parents or carers, the child and the family.

Government statutory guidance called Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 explains how agencies should work together to keep children safe and well. It supports practitioners to do what the law says they need to. The courts have said that agencies ‘must have regard’ to the guidance. This means they should follow it, unless there is good reason not to. Education (schools, nurseries), housing, and health services are all examples of agencies.

Assessment

Working Together 2018 includes guidance about how to make sure assessments are of a high quality (see page 28, paragraph 58). It says a high-quality assessment will:

  • Be child-centred (focus on the child)
  • Look at the needs of the child within their family
  • Involve the child
  • Build on a family’s strengths as well as identifying difficulties
  • Lead to action including providing services and help
  • Be transparent (which means clear and easy to understand) and parents and carers should know how they can challenge the assessment.

Information sharing

Practitioners should share all relevant information with parents or carers. Unless doing that may place the child at risk. Or jeopardise a police investigation. The strategy discussion should decide what information should be shared with parents or carers (see Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 at page 48).

Throughout the child protection process, children’s services should be clear with parents and carers about:

  • What the concerns are
  • What is expected of them – for example, what needs to change if their child is to be kept safe and well
  • What is and is not negotiable.

Decision-making

Parents or carers should be involved whenever a decision about what help or services a child and family need is being made. Or when that kind of decision is reviewed. This is so that the right help is offered without delay.

Advocacy support

Government statutory guidance says that the child’s social worker should share information about advocacy agencies with the family. And should explain that the parents or carers may bring an advocate (who may be a solicitor) or supporter to the conference (see Working Together 2018 at page 48).

Parents or carers who want to bring an advocate to the child protection conference might want to visit out Top tips & templates page to:

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