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). 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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New mother cradling her sleeping baby

Family Rights Group works to keep children safe within their family – with their parents who may need extra support, and with wider relatives and friends in kinship care.  We regularly hear from mothers about the challenges and complexities they face. And we know from research that women who are involved in care proceedings are more likely to say that they have existing mental health problems during antenatal appointments.

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week is a campaign dedicated to talking about mental health problems before, during and after pregnancy. Mental health problems during this time are common. See the Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week website for links to help and support.

This Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week we want to use the power of the shared experience of mothers to highlight the deeply concerning issue of babies being born into care. We will also look at the role of specialist advice in helping mothers to understand their rights when working with children’s services, and introduce our upcoming innovative support map.

Having your new-born baby removed at birth

The number of new-born babies subject to care proceedings has doubled over the last ten years. Born Into Care research shone a light on this issue and its findings are reinforced by insight from our specialist advice service. Too often decisions to remove babies from their mother at birth are made with little notice, and without children’s services working with the mother and wider family during the pregnancy to find better solutions.

Key local authority meetings or court proceedings often take place at short notice, sometimes whilst the mother is still in hospital. There is not enough consideration given to how well a new mother can engage in court proceedings  in the immediate postpartum period following a birth. Research with mothers in Wales also highlighted the scale of antenatal mental health issues for women involved in care proceedings. The research reinforces concerns about the capacity of new mothers to get legal advice, understand proceedings, and make decisions in the immediate aftermath of a birth when she may still be exhausted, bleeding, in need of medical attention and experiencing mental health issues.

Having a child removed from your care is deeply traumatic. Research shows that it often exacerbates the parents’ existing difficulties. Mothers (and fathers) experience grief, guilt, shame, stigma, and isolation.

Advocating for mothers whose children are born into care

Family Rights Group is calling for the new Born into Care: Best practice guidelines to be implemented across the country, and for government to play its part in making that happen. This includes offering a family group conference to the mother before the child is born.

Parents whose children are removed should be entitled to support to help them with their grief and address the reasons why their baby is not living with them. There should be a new duty on local authorities to offer specialist therapeutic support and counselling to mothers and fathers whose children are removed from their care, to help them with their grief and to address the reasons why their child was removed. This duty should be funded by Government.

Empowering mothers through independent advice

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It is essential that women can access independent legal advice when they need it. Our website provides an advice hub for mothers who need advice and support when their children are involved with children’s services to understand their rights and options.

It includes guidance on how children’s services should work with mothers and what to do if children’s services are concerned about domestic abuse. It also explains how to complain or raise a concern about children’s services.

 

A forum for shared experiences

Family Rights Group’s advice service also recognises the strength that can be found in shared experiences. Our Parents’ Forum is a safe inclusive space where women can seek guidance from an adviser and share their stories with other parents.

Getting advice

Mothers, and other family members, who need free, independent, and confidential advice about issues to do with children’s services, can contact our advice service:

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.

By web chat

Our webchat service is usually open on Mondays (excluding bank holidays) and Wednesdays from 2pm – 4pm.

Introducing the new Birth Families Support Map

Too often, birth mothers and family members affected by adoption, struggle to find the support they need.

Over the past year we’ve been working on a way to change that. We are excited to announce the upcoming launch of our new map of support services for birth-families affected by adoption, thanks to support from Adoption England. If you are unfamiliar with the term ‘birth families,’ that’s parents and relatives of children who have been adopted, are being adopted or may be adopted.

For the first time, there will be a searchable national map of support services – including advice, peer-to-peer support, and therapeutic services – for birth mothers and other birth family members in England.

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Campaigning for change

Family Rights Group will continue to raise awareness of the challenges faced by mothers who are involved with children’s services, and campaign for them to have their voice heard, be treated fairly, and get help early to prevent problems escalating.

Stay up to date

You can stay up to date with our work, including the launch of the Birth Families Support Map, by signing up to our newsletter.

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Our funding means we can currently only help 4 in 10 people

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