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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What if a parent or carer is unhappy with where their child is living whilst in care under a court order? What if their child is unhappy?

If a parent or carer is not happy with where their child is living they can:

  • Start by talking through their concerns with their child’s social worker. Our guide to Working with a social worker includes helpful tips on how to prepare for doing this
  • Raise their concerns with their child’s independent reviewing officer directly. The independent reviewing officer must then consider whether a looked after child review is needed and let the parent or carer know.

And if a parent learns their child is not happy in their placement they can start with talking to the social worker about this.

The social worker should then visit the child alone to discuss how they are finding their placement. The child’s wishes and feeling are an important factor when looking at where they should live and be cared for (see section 22(4) and 22(5) of the Children Act 1989). If the social worker has concerns about the care being provided, then they must report this to their manager and the independent reviewing officer.

Parents can raise their concerns with the child’s independent reviewing officer directly. The independent reviewing officer must then consider whether a looked after child review is needed and let the parent or carer know.

These tips for contacting the independent reviewing officer may help:

  • Contact can be made by telephone. Or in writing, by letter or email
  • If the contact details for the independent reviewing officer haven’t already been shared the child’s social worker can be asked for these
  • If sending an email or a letter, it is a good idea to:
    • Include a date by which the independent reviewing officer is requested to confirm they have safely received the letter or email
    • Say how soon you would like a full response from the independent reviewing officer (how long is reasonable will depend on how urgent the situation is. But non urgent matters, asking for a full response within 10 working days may be sensible
  • Keep a record of any discussions with the independent reviewing officer including:
    • Noting down the date and time of any discussions in a notebook or diary. Or in a voice note
    • Keeping a copy of any emails of letters sent, and any received from the independent reviewing officer
  • It can helpful to make note ahead of a call or meeting with the independent reviewing officer. Doing this can help parents and carers remember the things they want to raise. Talking things through with a trusted friend or family member can be a useful idea as well.

What if a parent or carer is still worried even after talking with the social worker and the independent reviewing officer?

Then they think about whether to make a complaint to children’s services. It is a good idea to first read our Complaints page. This has helpful information and advice about the children’s services complaints process. They can then seek further advice if needed. Options include:

  • Posting a question on our Advice Forums to receive advice from one of Family Rights Group’s expert advisers
  • Calling Family Rights Group’s specialist legal and practice advice line on 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday, from 9.30 am to 3 pm excluding bank holidays)

Taking legal advice about from a solicitor.  To do this, find a solicitor who is a specialist in children law. Or who has Children Law Accreditation. To find a solicitor, search using the ‘how to find a solicitor’ function on the Law Society website.  See our Working with a solicitor guide on our Top tips and templates page for more information about finding and working with a solicitor.

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