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). 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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How can a complaint be made. Should it be in writing?

A complaint can be made to the:

  • Social worker
  • Children’s services complaints officer, or
  • Children’s services complaints department

(See regulation 6 of the Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure Regulations 2006).

A complaint does not have to be put in writing. It can be made verbally. Just telling the child’s social worker or their manager that you want to make a complaint is enough. Just be sure to include that the request is to treat these concerns as a ‘formal complaint’.

Even if making the complaint verbally, it is a good idea to write a note, or make a voice note, about the concerns. This can be a good way to get ready for putting things in the right way when talking with the social worker. Or to their manager.

But it is best to make a complaint in writing by letter or email. This helps to make sure there is an accurate record of the concerns raised.

These are some useful points to follow to prepare a clear written complaint:

  1. Title the complaint letter as a ‘Formal Complaint’. This will make it clear straightaway that the concerns raised should be treated as a formal complaint
  2. Put the details of the complaint into one clear, brief letter. If the letter is too long it may be hard for people to understand the concerns
  3. To help make the letter clear and brief it is a good idea to:

It is important to keep a copy of the complaint letter and email and any responses. It is a good idea to make notes (with dates of any meetings or phone-calls relevant to the complaint.

If a child or young person wishes to make a complaint, local councils are required to provide them with information about advocacy services and offer help to obtain an advocate

(See regulation 11 of the Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure Regulations 2006 and Getting the best from complaints 2006 at paragraphs 3.2.1 and 3.4).

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