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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 is a pre-proceedings process? And when might children’s services begin one for an unborn baby?

If children’s services are worried a baby may not be safe at home they may decide they need to begin a pre-proceedings process. Pre-proceedings is the process where children’s services consider whether to start care proceedings.

If they decide to do this, children’s services must send parents to be a letter before proceedings. This letter should include:

  • Information about what children’s services are worried about
  • Changes they would like see made by the parents to be
  • Information about any assessments or courses children’s services think parents should be involved in – before or after the birth
  • Any support children’s services can put in place
  • An invitation to a pre-proceedings meeting to discuss those concerns.

During this process, children’s services will assess the family and consider whether they need to begin care proceedings to keep the baby safe. The parents or carers will have the chance to show whether they are likely to be able to care safely for their child.

See our Pre-proceedings page for more information.

If a pre-proceedings process going to begin it is very important to urgently find a solicitor:

  • To find a solicitor, search using the ‘how to find a solicitor’ function on the Law Society website. Look for someone who is a child law specialist. Or who has Children Law Accreditation. For information about finding a solicitor and working with them, please see our top tips guide Working with a solicitor
  • See our Pre-proceedings page for easy to follow information and advice about the pre-proceedings process
  • You may want to post a question on our Parents Forum to receive advice from one our expert advisers, or for further advice or complex situations you may want to
  • Contact us – call Family Rights Group’s specialist legal and practice advice line on 0808 801 0366 (the advice line is open Monday to Friday, from 9.30 am to 3 pm excluding bank holidays).
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