How to contact us for advice

Find out more

Telephone Handler
Close form

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.

Telephone Handler

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.

Family Rights Group
Cover Your Tracks
Generic filters
Exact matches only

Where is the law about voluntary arrangements found?

The law about voluntary arrangements is found in three main places:

  1. In section 20 of the Children Act 1989.
    This is where the mains powers and duties relating to voluntary arrangements are set out. Families may sometimes hear voluntary arrangements being called ‘section 20 voluntary accommodation’ or just ‘section 20’.  They are called this after this section of the Children Act 1989. Government regulations and guidance
  2. In government regulations and statutory guidance.
    This includes the details of how plans for children looked after under voluntary arrangements should be drawn up and reviewed.  It explains what duties children’s services departments have to children voluntary arrangement. The guidance help children’s services and practitioners do what the law says the need to.  Regulations and guidance relevant to voluntary arrangements include:
  1. In decisions made by senior judges in different cases. This is called case law. This includes an important decision made by judges in the Supreme Court. This is the highest court in the United Kingdom. The case is called Williams & Anor v London Borough of Hackney [2018] UKSC 37.  Judges in that case (and others) have helped to make clear:
  • When someone with parental responsibility for a child can agree or object to a voluntary arrangement
  • How voluntary arrangements may be used in a fair way
  • What rights and options parents and children have when voluntary arrangements are suggested or put in place.

The important points from those decisions is included throughout these pages.

People pie chart

Our funding means we can currently only help 4 in 10 people

Your donation will help more families access expert legal advice and support from Family Rights Group.

Donate Now