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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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What if children’s services say a child looked after under a voluntary arrangement should not see their siblings?

In this situation, a parent or carer can:

  • Ask the social worker to give the reasons for this view and the specific information they have looked at in reaching that view
  • Ask for those reasons to be put in writing, in a letter or email
  • Politely remind the social worker about the legal duty on children’s services to ‘promote contact’ between siblings who are looked after in the care system (see schedule 2 paragraph 15(1)) of the Children Act 1989)
  • Remind the social worker about what government guidance says about the importance of sibling contact for children. See What does government guidance say about sibling contact for looked after under voluntary arrangements?
  • Remind the social worker that a voluntary arrangement is about partnership. And contact arrangements should be agreed with parents and carers who have parental responsibility for the child who is in the voluntary arrangement.
  • Remind the social worker that government guidance also says that where a child in looked after under a voluntary arrangement contact is ‘a matter for negotiation and agreement between the responsible authority, the child, parents and others seeking contact’ (see paragraph 2.99 of The paragraph 2.99 of The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations: Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review’).

If there the difficulties with the plans for sibling contact don’t resolve, parents or carers may want to take some legal advice about their options. This is particularly important if a parent or carer is:

  • Feeling unsure if a voluntary arrangement is the right option for their child
  • Thinking about whether to exercise their right to remove their child from the voluntary arrangement

It is always best to discuss plans with children’s services before carrying them out and to see some legal advice.

Options for getting some advice include:

  • Posting a question on our Parents Forum or Kinship Carers Forum to receive advice from one of Family Rights Group’s expert advisers
  • Contacting us – call Family Rights Group’s specialist legal and practice advice line on 0808 801 0366 (the advice line is open 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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