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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What may lead to a child’s basic needs not being met?

There are different situations which may lead to a child’s basic needs not being met. And not every case will amount to neglect.

Examples of situations a child and family may be facing include:

  • A parent or carer lacking understanding, or information, about how to care for their child
  • Wider challenges affecting a parent or carer’s ability to meet their child’s needs. This could be the effects of poverty, deprivation or poor housing.
  • A change in circumstance causes financial problems and food and clothing is not always provided for the child. For example job loss, benefit delays or sanctions, a relationship breakdown
  • A crisis leads to a parent or carer not being able to meet their child’s needs in the way they usually do
  • A parent or carer is experiencing abuse themselves or suffering ill-health which affects their ability to meet their child’s needs
  • Neglect experienced as one of the consequences of a parent or carer struggling with a drug or alcohol dependency.

Some children’s basic needs are not met repeatedly, and over time, to the point that their health and development is seriously affected. It is where this happens that it may be described as neglect.

Where there are concerns that a child may be neglected, it is important that children’s services work with the child and family to:

  • Understand why the child’s basic needs are not always being met
  • Identify any help and support needed to make sure the child’s health and development improves
  • Plan how the child’s needs can be met and continue to be met into the future
  • Help the parents or carers to understand what steps they need to take and why they need to take them. Families should be supported to understand the timescales for doing the things asked of them
  • How children’s services will assess if things are improving for the child.
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