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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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Can kinship carers get parental leave from work when taking on the care of a child?

Parental leave offers ‘parents’ who qualify the right to take unpaid time off work to look after their child or make arrangements for their welfare. Whether a kinship carer can get parental leave depends on the type of kinship care arrangement. Families can take a look at to see whether in their precise situation the kinship carer will quality.

The amount of parental leave a kinship carer can take varies:

  • Kinship carers who have been working for their employer for 12 months or more, have (or expect to have) parental responsibility for a child can have up to 18 weeks of unpaid time off work
  • No more than 4 weeks of parental leave can be taken in a year, unless the employer agrees otherwise
  • Time off should be taken in blocks of one week not as individual days
  • A ‘week’ is the number of days worked in the carers normal working week[1]
  • An employer must be given 21 days’ notice of the date the leave is planned to start, but this doesn’t have to be in writing
  • If the child is disabled, 18 weeks of unpaid parental leave can be taken before the child turns 18.

The rules about parental leave come from The Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 in regulations 13 to 16 (and in schedule 2). But helpful, clear information is available at:

Kinship foster carers are not eligible for parental leave. But they may still be able to ask for a flexible working pattern. For further information about flexible working see

[1] Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations 1999 Sch 2

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