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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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Why are social workers making child protection enquiries?

Child protection enquiries must be made by social workers if:

  • Children’s services suspect a child is suffering significant harm or
  • Children’s services suspect a child is likely to suffer significant harm.

When children’s services make child protection enquiries they aim to:

  • Gather information about the child and their family
  • Assess the family’s situation
  • Decide whether they think the child is suffering ‘significant harm
  • Decide whether they think the child is likely to suffer ‘significant harm’
  • Decide whether they should take any action to keep the child safe and promote their welfare.

If the enquiries show a child is suffering significant harm (or is likely to) then an initial child protection conference must take place. This is a meeting arranged by children’s services. It decides whether a child should be placed on a child protection plan. A child protection conference cannot remove a child.

Social workers can’t remove a child from their home and parents unless either:

  • The Family Court has approved a plan for the child to be removed and made an order allowing children’s services to put that plan into action, or
  • A parent (or someone else) with parental responsibility has given their real and voluntary agreement to children’s services removing the child and no one else who is able (entitled) to object, is objecting. But the law says only certain people with parental responsibility can object.

See Can social workers remove a child from home? for more information.

And for more information about Family Court orders made to protect children see our Care (and related) proceedings page.

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