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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). 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 should children’s services do first after a child in need assessment has been requested? And can help be given before the assessment has finished?

Children’s services should decide certain things within one working day (see Working Together 2018 at page 33, paragraph 78).  These things are:

  • Confirm the request has been received, and then decide:
  • Whether the child needs any immediate services or immediate protection
  • Whether to start an assessment
  • What type of assessment it should be.

If children’s services agree a child in need assessment should be done, then a social worker should be allocated to do that work.

See our Child in need page for more information about what should happen during and following a child in need assessment.

Can help be given to a disabled child and their family before a child in need assessment is finished?

Yes. Government statutory guidance is clear that children’s services should not delay in putting necessary support in place (see Working Together 2018 at page 27, paragraph 52).

So, if needs are identified at any stage, support should be provided for the child and family as soon as possible. A parent or carer can tell the social worker if they feel support needs to be put in place urgently. Assessments can be done quickly if necessary.

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