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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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Seminars looking at what reforms are needed to our child welfare system

Family Rights Group hosted a series of policy seminars exploring what reforms are needed, particularly within our child welfare and family justice system, so more children can live safely and thrive within their families and communities.

The events were livestreamed and recorded which can be viewed below.

Seminar 1: How can partnership with families run through family support and child protection systems and practice?

Partnership between families and the state in order to protect children and promote children’s wellbeing is an underlying principle of the Children Act 1989 – a landmark piece of legislation which provides the legal foundations for our child welfare and family justice system to this day.

So why, 32 years on, is the reality for families often so different?

On Wednesday 17th November 2021 our esteemed panel and guests met to discuss, what would the child welfare and family justice system look like if partnership working was embedded throughout? And what needs to change to realise that ambition?

Speakers included:

  • Professor Carlene Firmin MBE – Professor of Social Work, Durham University
  • Theresa Leavy – Executive Director for Children, Dorset Council
  • Cathy Ashley OBE – Chief Executive, Family Rights Group
  • Josh MacAlister – Chair, Independent Review of Children’s Social Care in England
  • Co-Chair: Angela Frazer-Wicks – Mother whose eldest children were adopted and member of the Experts by Experience Board of the Care Review
  • Co-Chair: Justice Gwynneth Knowles QC – High Court Judge in the Family Division, member of the Design Group of the Care Review, former social worker.

Seminar 2: Supporting kinship care – getting the legislative framework right

When children can’t remain at home, there is much evidence to show the benefits of being raised by relatives or friends they know and love or can build lasting relationships with. Yet, the number of children in care is now at the highest level since 1985, and wider family is not always consistently explored as an alternative to a child going into unrelated care. Many kinship carers also struggle to access the financial, practical and emotional support they and their children need. Currently the legal status of the child (primarily whether they are or have been looked after) rather than the extent of their needs, tends to determine access to support for children in kinship care.

On Wednesday 24th November 2021 our esteemed panel and guests met to discuss, what needs to change to ensure we are supporting children to live safely and thrive in their family network? Can we learn anything from the experience of other countries? The event was held on behalf of the Kinship Care Alliance.

Speakers included:

  • Janet Boddy – Professor of Child, Youth and Family Studies, University of Sussex
  • Paul Nixon – Former Chief Social Worker for Children, Youth and Families in New Zealand
  • Caroline Lynch – Principal Legal Adviser at Family Rights Group
  • Donna Weaver – Kinship carer of three children, Director of Kinship Carers UK, and a member of Family Rights Group Kinship Carers Panel
  • Shanayd Warren – Special Guardian and member of the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board’s Special Guardians Reference Group
  • Co-Chair: Janet Kay – Kinship carer, adopter and former social worker and lecturer. Member of the Experts by Experience Board of the Care Review
  • Co-Chair: Sanchia Berg – Award Winning BBC Correspondent, Today Programme.
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