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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I don’t see what happened between me and my partner as a ’domestic abuse’ situation, it was a one off. Why are children’s services concerned?

There may be many different signs of a domestically abusive relationship including physical, sexual and emotional abuse. Emotional abuse can include psychological abuse. Witnessing emotional abuse can be very traumatic for a child yet this can be minimised and overlooked – even by those involved. It is not always easy to identify. But it can be just as harmful as other forms of abuse.

See our Emotional abuse page for more information.

Children services departments are responsible for:

  • Supporting children and families
  • Protecting vulnerable children.

They have general legal duties to provide any child in need and their families with extra help (see section 17(1) of the Children Act 1989). And to take steps to help keep children safe if they are thought to be at risk of harm (see section 47 of the Children Act 1989).

Children can suffer long-term harm from living in a household where domestic abuse is taking place. So, if children’s services receive information about a child and concerns about domestic abuse they will decide:

  • Whether to start an assessment
  • What type of assessment it should be (for example, whether to focus on support or on child protection)
  • Whether the child needs any immediate support or protection.

If the information children’s services have makes them suspect a child has been harmed or is likely to suffer significant harm then they must investigate. This is called making child protection enquiries. They have to do this by law.

It is important that parents and carers understand what is meant by domestic abuse. And that they understand the ways in which children’s services might become involved. So for more information and advice see our Domestic abuse page. This includes FAQs for fathers and tailored FAQs for mothers about domestic abuse.

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