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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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Who should agree the care plan for a child who is looked after under a court order?

The law says that children’s services should find out the wishes and feelings of certain people before making decisions about any looked after child. This includes children in care under court orders.

Children’s services should do this ‘as far as is reasonably practicable’. This means they should take reasonable steps to gather the wishes and feelings.

The people are:

  • The child
  • Their parent(s) and anyone else who has parental responsibility or
  • If there is no parent or person with parental responsibility, then the person caring for the child immediately before they became looked after or
  • If the child is 16 or 17, the care plan should be agreed directly with them.

Children’s services should then take into account those wishes and feeling when they make any decision.

So, all of this applies where the decision about the child is to do with their care plan. Or some part of it.

This is all set out in section 22(4)  and section 22(5) of the Children Act 1989.

This does not mean the care plan must be agreed with a child un(unless 16/17, their parents and others with parental responsibility. But it does mean wishes and feelings should be gathered and taken into account.

Note: The Family Court will need to approve a care plan for the child before a court order bringing placing the care’ can be made. In considering whether to approve a care plan and make a court order the Family Court must look at what is in the child’s best interests. See What does the Family Court have to look at when making decisions about a child?

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