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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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Will a child protection process begin if there are concerns a child is being neglected?

This will depend on the precise situation. But if children’s services suspect a child is suffering significant harm or is likely to suffer significant harm as a result of neglect (or another reason), then they must investigate. This is called making child protection enquiries.

When children’s services make child protection enquiries they aim to:

  • Gather information about the child and their family
  • Assess the family’s situation
  • Decide whether they think the child is suffering ‘significant harm
  • Decide whether they think the child is likely to suffer significant harm
  • Decide whether they should take any action to keep the child safe and promote their welfare.

Where enquiries show a child is suffering, or at risk of suffering, significant harm, an initial child protection conference must take place. This is a meeting arranged by children’s services. It decides whether a child should be placed on a child protection plan.

The child protection conference decides:

  • Whether a child protection plan needs to be developed to keep the child safe and well
  • The date for any future child protection review conference.

If the conference decides a child protection plan is needed then an outline plan should be put together. This plan should:

  • Identify the things that are likely to cause harm to the child
  • Identify how the child can be protected from those things
  • Ensure the child is kept safe, well cared for and is prevented from suffering further harm
  • Support the parents or carers and their wider family to keep their child safe and well cared for.

See our Child protection page for more information about the child protection process.

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