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.

Family Rights Group
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by Susan Moore, Adviser​

It’s difficult to prepare for a shift on our advice line because the calls we get are so varied both in terms of content and tone. The best thing for me to do is ensure that I’ve cleared my mind of previous calls or anything else from the morning. When the phone rings, it’s a blank page to be filled.​

The first call comes in early. A grandmother calls in tears. Her two grandchildren, who live at the other end of the country, have been removed into foster care because of an unexplained injury to the baby. The whole family are devastated. She feels confused and helpless.

​What is going to happen…?​

Unfortunately that’s a question I can’t answer. I can explain the process though, talk about options, help the caller to realise that there are things she can do to effect the situation. We talk about the importance of the family in care cases; kinship care options, family group conferences.

The call is longer than many but the result is worth the extra time. By the end of the call, the caller feels reassured “I haven’t got an answer, but I have got a plan”.

There is a good chance that our 40min call will result in two children being back within their family in the near future.​

A number of short and straightforward calls are dealt with including referrals to our partners when the issues fall outside of our remit and signposts our website.

My next caller has just attended a review child protection conference and is angry and distressed that her child remains under a child protection plan. She is a victim of domestic violence but feels blamed rather than supported regarding her ex partner’s behaviour.

It is important to hear and acknowledge the caller’s anger without allowing it to dominate the call. It’s in the caller’s best interests to see the situation from Children’s Services’ perspective.

We discuss what aspects of the child protection plan the caller can agree with, what issues she feels she needs to challenge and the most productive way of doing this.

I refer the caller to our discussion board for parents as a safe and supportive space for her to vent her frustrations and benefit from peer support while co-operating with the process surrounding her child.

Finally, I am speaking to an expectant mum whose husband has been arrested on suspicion of child sex offences. She is devastated and bewildered. She knows her husband and knows he could not have done this and yet the social worker carrying out the core assessment is already talking about them separating.

It’s a hard call. It is vital that I am completely honest and realistic with the caller. She feels she knows her husband but she cannot truly know what lies behind the allegations. Regardless of the outcome of any police investigation, Children’s Services may remain firm in their view that her child will not be safe while she and her husband are together. In this case, she may be faced with the stark situation of choosing her child or her husband. Only she can make the right decision for her family; my priority is to ensure that any decision she makes is as informed as possible.​

As the line closes, my focus turns to recording the afternoon’s calls on our confidential database. It is vital that these are as clear and detailed as possible to ensure any future queries are dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible if a caller needs to come back to us as their situation develops.

With records complete and any relevant follow up work done, now it’s time to tackle the emails…..

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