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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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by Katie, kinship carer

Life in lockdown for a kinship carer. Where do I start? I feel exhausted, drained and a shadow of the person I once was. This started before lockdown, but now I’m passed seeking help because lockdown has made what little help there was, vanish.

All the kids are in bed, me and my partner have finished tidying up from the day’s chaos that the children have left in their wake. I check the monitor and one child is scrunched up under the duvet, one is sprawled out with legs dangling over the bed and one is cuddling a teddy they were given the first day they arrived. My heart swells. In that moment it is easy to forget all my frustrations. That feeling of being fed up. I’m running out of ideas and motivation. It’s the same thing day in, day out. As I sit down on the couch with a sigh of relief as the aches and pains ease away with the soft cushions, I feel guilty. Guilty as I watch the news, so many people have lost their lives, their loved ones.

But still, I wonder how long I will cope, how long will this last? Me and the rest of the nation I suppose. Why am I finding it more difficult than my friends? Why is everyone coping much better than I am? Then I remember. I’m a kinship carer. Constant disagreements with the local authority on what’s best for the children, weekly calls from a contact worker, an upset child because we can’t get hold of her parents, back and forth emails with solicitors, a pending panel approval that I am assured is just a formality but this doesn’t make me worry any less. (note to self I must check when the next LAC review is).

It’s like living in a glass house some days. One of our little ones is shielding, which has made me even more protective than ever. If anything happened to him… well, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Every rule followed, additional medical advice taken, extra measures put in place to keep everyone safe. Hey, and let’s not forget home schooling! I find myself thinking, “I didn’t have this when I was their age”. Mind you, I’m struggling with their schoolwork at my age. The youngest has poured his left-over yellow paint down the back of the couch, the eldest is having a meltdown because school work is too hard, and the middle wonder is quiet, later discovered eating a whole packet of biscuit whilst I’m covered in yellow paint. Breathe, just breathe. Time out from school whilst I give in and let them share said packet of biscuits to give me chance to clean up the paint. Breathe again.

My partner is self-employed and I’m on my own most days. My little ones are at developmental age where they need that social interaction, they are behind and I constantly fear I’m not enough. I’ve been asking for help since March 2020 and always been met with “well, hopefully it will be over soon” or “let’s just see what happens”. It’s now March 2021 and besides screaming and shouting, I’m not sure what else to do. I doubt myself after every phone call, after every email, “is it enough?” Of course, I still jump through the hoops and tick the boxes, the children are safe and looked after unless you count the over indulgence on snacks. Bills are increasing and income depleting. I’m a proud person and have worked hard all my life. It’s not me I’m worried about. The little ones need additional support, medically and therapeutically that just isn’t available during lockdown. After all they have been though, it’s the very least they deserve. From one struggling family to another…

Hang in there!

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