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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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Cross-party Parliamentary Taskforce: Publications

Published reports produced on behalf of the Taskforce

The report provides a detailed analysis of the survey and sets out recommendations

Headline findings from the Taskforce’s survey of kinship carers’ experiences during the coronavirus crisis

  • Half of kinship carers surveyed are self-isolating because they, the child or someone in their household has an underlying health condition.
  • 28% of kinship carers surveyed have a limiting long-term illness and 54% of the kinship children have additional educational needs or disabilities.
  • A quarter of kinship carers reported they faced financial hardship that had worsened as a result of the current crisis, and a further 18% remained in a similar level of hardship as pre-crisis.
  • Carers’ biggest concerns are the impact of the lockdown on their child’s mental health, development and behaviour. Their other main worries are what would happen to the child if they became ill with the virus, and concerns about managing financially.
  • Half of the kinship carers had received no support during this crisis and many expressed a wish to either receive a phone call from their local authority to check up on their wellbeing or to receive clear information about what help is available.
  • 37% of kinship carers surveyed had been offered a school or childcare place. Most had not taken up the offer, with many being required to shield and citing worries that by sending their child to school, they would risk bringing the virus home. 18% of kinship carers said they had not been offered a place but would appreciate one.

Other charities including Kinship Carers Liverpool, Grandparents Plus and Adfam have also shared with us findings of their own engagement with kinship carers, which are consistent with the survey’s results.

Summary of recommendations drawn from the Taskforce’s survey of kinship carers’ experiences during the coronavirus crisis

The Taskforce welcome the measures the Government has introduced so far to help some kinship care families, but we urge Government to go further. Without support, placements may break down and more children would enter the care system, at a much greater cost to the child, family, society and the public purse.

We propose:

Reducing financial hardship and administrative burdens

  • A new local Kinship Care Crisis Fund to enable local authorities to respond flexibly to the needs of all kinship families in their locality. Suspension of the bedroom tax when self-isolating. Removal or at least increase the limit of the benefit cap.

Access to justice

  • The promised extension of legal aid to special guardians in private law cases to be introduced as a matter of urgency.

Reducing anxieties and increasing support

  • UK Government to work with the Kinship Care Alliance to fund a coordinated plan of financial and legal advice, and emotional, education, parenting and practical help to reflect kinship care households’ needs during the crisis.
  • Work with supermarkets to prioritise supermarket deliveries for kinship carers and anyone parenting disabled children.
  • We welcome the greater flexibility introduced to the Adoption and Special Guardianship Support Fund and propose that the Government goes a step further by extending the Fund to all children who are subject to special guardianship orders.

Education support for children in kinship care

  • All children in kinship care placements, where there is local authority, court or professional evidence that they cannot live with their parents, should be offered a childcare or school place during the crisis.
  • The Government offer of laptops or tablets and broadband to support home learning for children in care or who have a social worker, should be extended to all children in kinship care placements.
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