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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Will a parent or carer suffering with mental ill-health be treated fairly by children’s services and other agencies?

Parents and carers should always be treated fairly. There are different laws that come together to help make sure this happens.

Human rights

The Human Rights Act 1998 applies to all ‘public authorities’. That includes children’s services and the Family Court. This means they must take account of a person’s rights under the European Convention on Human Rights. This includes:

  • Working with children and families in ways which are consistent with the right to respect for their family life
  • Making sure their decision-making processes are fair and involve children and parents.

See our Children’s services page for more information about fair process and human rights. The page also provides information about the other important principles that should guide the way children’s services departments work.

Equality and discrimination

If someone has a disability they are protected from discrimination by public bodies and other organisations providing services to the public. This protection is provided under the Equality Act 2010. This means children’s services and adult services cannot discriminate against a parent or carer because they have a disability.

Public bodies must make ‘reasonable adjustments’ when providing services to disabled people. This is to ensure they are not put at ‘substantial disadvantage’ (see section 20 of the Equality Act 2010). A substantial disadvantage is something more than just minor.

What is a reasonable adjustment will depend on the situation and condition. But making sure a parent with a mental health condition has additional help and support to participate in a meeting can be a reasonable adjustment. See Can a parent or carer with a mental health condition have help from an advocate or supporter in meetings with children’s services?

All public bodies including adult services and children’s services have a duty to take positive action to protect and promote equality for disabled people. They should show that they have things in place to help prevent discrimination. They should promote equality in their policies and in the way they deliver services (see section 149 Equality Act 2010).

Definition of disability under the Equality Act

Section 6 of the Equality Act 2010 says a mental health condition will be a disability under the Act if the effect of the condition on the person’s day to day activity is:

  • Substantial (more than small or minor)
  • Long term (lasts 12 months or is likely to last that long. Or it is likely to recur)
  • Adverse (negative).
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