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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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What if children’s services receive information that makes then concerned about the safety of an unborn baby?

Children’s services departments sometimes receive information from someone worried about the safety of an unborn baby. This is called a referral. A referral may come from a member of the public or a family member. It can come from a practitioner involved with the family. This could be a midwife or a GP for example.

Children’s services should then decide certain things within one working day:

  • Whether to start an assessment
  • And if so, what type. This could be a:
  • Child in needassessment focussing on support under section 17 of the Children Act 1989, or
  • Child protection enquiries and assessment under section 47 of the Children Act 1989.
  • Tell the person who made the referral what action (if any) they plan to take
  • Tell the parent and the child what action (if any) they plan to take. Unless doing that may place the unborn at risk of harm.

See Working Together 2018, page 33, paragraph 78 onwards.

Whether a referral leads to children’s services making child protection enquiries will depend on the precise situation.

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