Families and Parents

Support Groups, Information and Advice

For Families and Parents

General Advice and Support

Best Beginnings – a charity which works collaboratively to create innovative and evidence-based resources to help parents and improve child health outcomes. The charity is committed to working with child health and social care professionals to engage families from disadvantaged backgrounds to help them make positive health choices for themselves and their children.

Family Action -works to tackle some of the most complex and difficult issues facing families today – including financial hardship, mental health problems, social isolation, learning disabilities, domestic abuse, or substance misuse and alcohol problems.

Family Lives – dedicated support for parents, formerly known as Parentline Plus and formed in response to the death of Maria Colwell in 1973. Helpline 0808 800 2222.

Family Rights Group – good source of help and advice for people involved with children’s services. Call their advice line on 0808 801 0366 or email [email protected]. The FRG also have a  dedicated website offering advice for young parents – visit Young Parents Advice.

Gingerbread – advice and support for single parents.

There for you Advisory Service – a non profit organisation that provides support and advice to individuals and families involved with, or being investigated by their local children’s services. Helpline 0800 1123 282

your child could be taken into care. Here is what you need to know. Information pack from the government website www.justice.gov.uk.

Struggling Families Alliance – works to counter the stigma, negative presumptions and judgemental approaches to families whose children are subject to, or at risk of, state intervention by influencing how these families are perceived by the public and portrayed by the media and politicians and to enable these families to have a voice in policy and decision-making circles. 

Understanding Childhood – provides leaflets that you can download to help families and child care professionals understand how to raise emotionally secure children. Emphasises the importance of the child’s early years.

Parents apart from children

UK Adoption Register -This website is intended to be the first port of call for anyone thinking about searching for or making contact with birth and adopted relatives or researching an adoption that took place in the UK.

Birth Ties – Part of the support offered by After Adoption. If you are a parent who is facing the prospect that your child may be adopted, you can ring 0800 8400 2020 for help and support in understanding what is going on. They can help arrange contact between you and your child and introduce you to other people who are going through the same experience.

Family Separation Hub – a child focussed resource, providing information and support around all aspects of divorce and family separation.

Families Need Fathers -charity chiefly concerned with the problems of maintaining a child’s relationship with both parents during and after family breakdown. Offers information, advice and support services to help parents to achieve a positive outcome for their children. A Forum and network of over 50 UK Branches also offer the pro-bono guidance of solicitors and others familiar with the family courts.

Men’s Aid  – a charity providing information and advice to all parents who are seeking to maintain a meaningful and responsible relationship with their children after family break down or divorce.

Mothers Apart from Their Children –  MATCH is a charity that offers support and information for mothers who are apart from their children for a variety of reasons.

Not Beyond Redemption – charity that offers free family law advice for mothers in prison or who have left prison

Issues of poverty and exclusion

ADT Fourth World -a human rights-based, anti-poverty organisation with more than 40 years’ experience of engaging with individuals and institutions to find solutions to eradicate extreme poverty in the UK. Runs a family support programme.

Family Action – a leading provider of services to disadvantaged and socially isolated families since its foundation in 1869. They work with over 45,000 children and families a year by providing practical, emotional and financial support through over 100 services based in communities across England. 

Adoptive families

Adoption org.uk – supporting adoptive families.

After Adoption – a voluntary adoption agency, working with all groups of people affected by adoption, including supporting the wider family and reuniting family members.

The Adoption Legal Centre -The team at the Adoption Legal Centre are specialists in advising both adopters and potential adopters. They can help when adopters are facing challenging problems.

Adoption Social – collection of blog posts about issues faced by adoptive families

First4Adoption – a dedicated information service for people interested in adopting a child in England. Gives impartial information about adopting and can put you in touch with adoption agencies in your area.

PAFCA – parenting advice for foster carers and adopters. Offers support to improve the psychological well-being of adopted children.

Parenting Adopted Teens – a UK based group of parents who have adopted children from the looked after system in the past 20 years.  They aim to develop specialist programmes and resources for use with parents of teenage adoptees in the UK.


Grandparents plus – charity championing the role of grandparents and the wider family in children’s lives.

Grandparents Association -set up in 1987 by a group of grandparents whose grandchildren had been put into care, adopted from care or were not allowed any contact with. Their mission is to improve the lives of children by working with and for all grandparents. Call the helpline on 0845 4349585.

National Kinship Alliance for children -a nationwide network of grandparents, community members, and professionals working together to provide education and support, advocacy, and thought leadership for children, grandparents, and kinship families.

Families and prison

Action for Prisoners’ Families -works for the benefit of prisoners’ and offenders’ families by representing the views of families and those who work with them and by promoting effective work with families.

Inside Time – National newspaper for prisoners and detainees. Various pages of information for help and support organisations and networks for those in custody as well as recently released. Also information for friends and family.

Offenders Families Helpline Website – offers information and support from arrest through to release and beyond. Call the help line on 0808 808 2003.

PACT – Pact is a national charity which supports people affected by imprisonment. They provide practical and emotional support to prisoners’ children and families, and to prisoners themselves.

Prisoners’ Families and Friends Service – based in London but offering a freephone helpline for anyone, call 0808 808 3444. Offers information, advice, friendship and support to those with relatives or friends in prison.

Prison to parenthood –  offers a child focused solution to reunite parents upon their release from prison with their children. Identifying recovery from addiction and family ties as core elements to reduce re-offending, the organisation promotes both parents playing active and meaningful roles in the upbringing of their children through rehabilitation, emotional support and legal advice.

24 thoughts on “Families and Parents

  1. Areama ford

    Social workers want to take my second baby help I got court on Thursday coming for an Ico
    need advice on what to do I’m in a mother and baby unit with CCTV I came here voluntarily me and my bf want to go home with our baby but social workers are desperate to take him help what should I do? 🙁

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      You need to talk to your lawyer urgently. If you don’t have a lawyer, you need to get one, urgently. You need to understand what the LA are saying they are worried about and what, if anything you can do to make those worries less. Your lawyer can help you understand this.

  2. jane jines

    Hi I have a non mol on ex husband when speaking to social worker I was saying I may consider removing as finding contact with daughter and husband hard. She was not happy at all. I called next day to say it was only a question and I wouldn’t remove. She called me a liar and said don’t think you can get rid of me by saying what you want me to hear. I am so upset and worried that they will take my daughter

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      If the social worker spoke to you like that, that is a serious matter and you should make a formal complaint. No one should speak to anyone else like that, but particularly not a professional talking to a parent.
      Your daughter can only be removed from your care against your will by a court order or by the police for 72 hours. This is a serious matter and requires serious evidence. I doubt that evidence would come from one conversation, but obviously I don’t know anything about your case, other than what you have just written.

  3. Sam

    You will feel upset and anxious. I cannot advise you as I am not a professional , but hopefully someone else will reply.

  4. Angelo Granda

    Dear Jane Jines, I strongly suggest you seek out the services of an independent advocate who will offer you support and assist you in all meetings with the CS. If the SW followed the legal guidelines ,she will have already informed you of all such available services locally. If not try the Family Rights Group (FRG) who can offer advice including a telephone help-line. You might also get help from the new advocacy service being set up by one of the ladies associated with the CPR whose name I can’t call to mind right now.
    One of the problems about which other parents often complain ( nine times out of ten approx) is the lack of integrity and training, incompetence etc. of individual social workers and it is often alleged that they misquote parents, issue inappropriate threats, cajole them into signing papers and so on. For that reason, I suggest that you purchase a small voice recorder and that you record all conversations you have with Children’s Services. I am not sure whether it is obligatory that you ask for permission from them to do so, perhaps you could enquire with the transparency project .I don’t think you have to but I am just an ordinary parent like you and Sam , not a professional adviser.
    Your SW would appear already to be acting unprofessionally, as you have already mentioned so I will add that you should at all times be very careful as to what you say and be wary. Any thing you do say can be taken down and WILL be used in evidence against you where possible if court proceedings are taken. Answer questions honestly but be careful when discussing problems or making admissions as they may be exaggerated and highlighted later by the SW or the manager. You have probably noticed already how a pen and notebook are permanent parts of the SW’s kit. Every thing will go onto a database when she returns to the office and she won’t check the facts rigidly. Beware but cooperate as best as you can. Advocacy is essential. Get an independent one if you can and they will lessen the chances of misunderstandings developing and will try and ensure the CS follows working together frameworks and guidelines as they have to by law. Hope this helps ; it is only general advice but , if you go to the FRG website you will get individual help re- your case plus there is a discussion forum.

  5. looked_after_child

    If this is any help, I found it helpful to write to social care with what was said and agreed after each tel con/meeting. Even the very act of trying to put things down on paper helped me get clear what I wanted and it meant that no-one could twist/misinterpret what I said. It really does help to have someone with you – just to watch dynamics and give advice afterwards if things get ‘a bit over-emotional’ – As I say not sure if that helps – once things go on file it can be very hard to correct them so best to take control?.

  6. Angelo Granda

    Just one more piece of important advice.Think about keeping your private telephone number PRIVATE. You would be surprised at the power and resources that SW’s have! They work with Police Child-Protection Units who think nothing of gaining access to telephone records.Just taking a call can be held against you in Court and if you make a call yourself to a man they have taken a dislike to as presenting a ‘risk’ it could lose you your children.All such snippets of evidence add up into the balance against you and even your own lawyers may be overwhelmed.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Angelo – if the court is worried that a parent is having contact with a violent person and lying about it, they WILL order disclosure of records of telephone calls and texts. The best thing is not to have contact with violent people and then lie about it. This will immediately increase people’s worries by 100%. ‘Just taking a call’ can be held against you because it is clear evidence that you still have some kind of wish to remain in contact with someone harmful.

  7. Angelo Granda

    Yes .you are right , Sarah, which is why I warned Jane and other readers. One only has to accept a call let alone make one to give the SW’s and lawyers cause for fear and an excuse to step in and act out the role of ‘child-saviour’. After all that is what they see as their vocation.
    The fact is ones civil liberties may be impinged upon using laws made originally to protect this country against terrorist threats, criminal activity etc. The CP system can monitor your calls and use telephone records to ‘micromanage ‘ human relationships and it gives them a chance to establish ‘cloud cuckoo land’ fears . They have no right to prevent citizens talking to one another and no right, in my opinion, to use ‘speculative’ evidence and guesswork. It is human and quite natural for a husband and wife to discuss their futures and so on and normal. A professional’s guesswork about what may have been said and fears should not enter into a case. No way is it ‘clear evidence’ that the person has a wish to stay in contact with someone harmful. That is like saying they take SW’s calls because they wish to!

    So, Jane, it may be wise to remain ex-directory . I must also warn you that if the case does go to proceedings you should not use your real name on this forum. It appears these columns are monitored and anything you say on here may be reported to Court. This happened quite recently even though the parent was using a pen-name!

  8. Skye

    My children are on a special guardianship order with my Aunty and uncle for the past 2 years the terms were once a month contact for the foreseeable future. I’ve asked for it to be changed and unsupervised and my Aunty had said she will support me when I go to court to revoke the sgo but she isn’t giving me more contact it’s excuse after excuse first it was I’m not allowed then I contacted social services and they said it’s down to her now then she is saying if I have more contact the dad will ask for more contact(I’m not in contact with my children’s dad) and then she says oh but we’re so busy and they have parties to go to etc etc what can I do I just want to have them maybe every 2 weekends and at least over night at mine instead of my mums and it being supervised. I’ve done a parenting course first aid and a safeguarding course. I’ve tried to find help and support but I’ve had. Nothing my children were just placed on the sgo and that was the end of it. Any help would be much appreciated.

    1. HelenSparkles

      Contact does become difficult when managed by family members and the person with the SGO has the right to make decisions about it. Anything could be going on here, your aunty could be making excuses for the children not wanting to see you more for example, and having an honest discussion (without the children there) might be the best way forward.

      The promotion of contact is very important, as is prioritising the needs of the children, and if the outcome of your discussion isn’t satisfactory you may need legal advice. It may be possible to make an application for a Child Arrangements Order which sets out contact arrangements. It is very likely that this would require an assessment of change effected since the SGO was granted.

  9. Robin

    Hi my name is Robin and almost a month ago CPS got a referral from my child’s School because during conference meeting they had said that I appeared to be under the influence and said that I told them I can’t make it because they were supposed to reschedule and they never rescheduled it I picked up my son and they were all in the classroom and they expected me to put whatever I had on hold to meet with them and I told him if we could do it some other time because I had a dental appointment I could not cancel otherwise they were going to hold it against me they just kept going on about the meeting they didn’t care got my appointment or ask me or seem to be worried about it make a long story short two months later CPS calls me over the phone or says can we meet the reason why we’re calling us cuz we got a referral from the school now they told me if you were to appear negative we just need to have you do a urine test and if your negative will check that off we want to make sure your child’s going to the doctor’s get that confirmed while I did that and now they want me to keep drug testing and a couple of classes I cannot cancel any appointment or try to reschedule because the doctors will call her I feel like I’m overwhelmed with my son’s appointments and having a drug test every day if I miss a day or don’t go in at counts as positive and they can hold it against me but I haven’t went to court yet what do I do cuz I don’t want to lose my son and you know things come up in my life I feel like you know if I got sick or if I was overwhelmed with appointments you know she hasn’t told me when I go to court and I don’t know when this is going to be over with or how long I have to do this I mean I feel like I’m going to be doing things that they’re asking me to do and then when I go to court or if I go to court it’s going to be worse I’m trying my best I don’t know what they expect me to do something just doesn’t feel right to me I feel like everything that I’m supposed to do isn’t quite documented and I feel like I can’t do anything about it because I can’t find any numbers and I’ll even called the court to ask about my appointment and they haven’t found nothing and the only thing that they said when I called was well it sounds like my worker has somebody working for her I made one stupid mistake I showed positive wants and now I have to do all these things but I’m worried and I’m frustrated and I can’t think straight just want to know if there legally allowed to do that without you going to court first I don’t know who to go to or who to call for legal advice as long as I’m getting him to all of his appointments and getting them to school everyday and on time that shouldn’t be a problem I mean I don’t know why I have to prove myself that I’m staying clean when I really am I mean and my worker just thinks that it’s really easy and she keeps telling me yeah I know I know you’re strong you could do it I know it’s a lot but we’ll get through this when I asked her a question she tells me oh as soon as I hear when you go to court I will call you and let you know I don’t know what’s going to happen she tells me that she was doing court papers that had nothing to do with me and she had appointments and there’s no surprises and she would have told me everything didn’t make sense I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about the whole system and how they get pretty tricky but my worker seems to be on it helping me but I don’t know where to start so that’s my long story sorry but I just don’t know where to begin I just need to know if what she’s doing is legal or if this is something that needs to go to Legal Aid

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Dear Robin – I am not sure what country you are in – I think you may be in the USA as you refer to ‘CPS’ which I think is Child Protection Services. If you are in the US I am afraid I don’t know anything about the law there. If you are in the UK then your child cannot be taken away from you without your consent unless there is a court order. You will also get automatic legal aid for a publicly funded lawyer if it does go to court.
      Sorry I can’t be more help. You do sound quite confused and worried. Is there anyone who will sit down with you and just try and explain the process a bit better? Just keep trying to keep on top of everything and meet all your appointments – or if you can’t, explain why and try and re-arrange.

  10. Trish Lunn

    Hello, I need assistance please. My 15 year old daughter has been doing damage mainly to herself for nearly a year now. She was top grade in school and now is truant daily. She is smoking weed and today her and friends drank most of the alcohol in my home. I am a single parent and leave for work earlier than she has to get up for school, so I cannot lock the doors, Two children ended up in a&e tonight due to the drinking and my daughter arrested for trying to abscond. What protection do I have as a parent ?

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      I don’t understand the question? What protection do you have as a parent against what? The problem with teenagers is that they cannot be controlled if they don’t want to. If you try and put your hands on them to restrain them etc, they you may end up being guilty of a criminal assault. If you are worried that she is going to do harm to herself or to others and you feel powerless to help her, then you need to make a referral to your local children’s services.

      Can you talk to her? Is there a friend or family member who can talk to her? She sounds as though she is going down a very dangerous road. IS there something in her life that is upsetting her or making her angry?

  11. Angelo Granda

    Every citizen has a legal right to protection against unlawfulness and criminals.This applies to you,your daughter and any other members of the family whether you are rich or poor,sick or well,black or white and without any discrimination on religious grounds,ethnic grounds or anything else.
    Your daughter appears to have fallen victim at a young age to a criminal drug-pushing
    enterprise and so have her friends.
    It is the duty of the Police ( Public Protection Department) to carry out a criminal investigation,identify those supplying illegal drugs to the children and to bring them to justice.
    You must ensure they do their duty.Complain long and hard bearing in mind that sometimes it is a postcode lottery;In some areas,the police don’t do much at all except refer the case to Child-Protection.If they do I advise you to get an advocate and a solicitors advice quickly and don’t be rushed into signing any agreements .Insist on a full police investigation;everyone is entitled access to the full mechanations and protection of the law.
    The Social Services have no power over drug criminals.They can’t arrest and get them off the street,only the Police can.
    Tell them that when you go to the Police station.Your daughter is a minor trapped by predators along with her friends not a criminal ,don’t agree to any cautions .
    Tell them to do their job and put a stop to the drug pushing.
    If the social workers overreact and take your daughter into care unlawfully without an order from the court,I suggest you instruct a solicitor immediately to bring a complaint against the Local Authority.
    Hopefully you live in the right post code area
    and you will have no problems,the Police will
    put a stop to the supply of drugs ,you can keep alcohol out of the house and your daughter will be rescued from her plight.
    Hope this helps.Good luck.I should warn you I am no lawyer advising you just an ordinary parent like you so as I said before ,get a solicitor.Don’t forget to remind the Police of your rights if they pass the buck to child a protection.

    1. Sarah Phillimore Post author

      Angelo, what you didn’t seem to read was that this teenager drank all the alcohol that was in her mother’s home. How is that a police matter? This is a child who is seems beyond parental control. She needs help from some where or she is going to end up in prison or dead. If her mum can’t help her, now maybe the time to get help from somewhere else.

      1. Angelo Granda

        I agree that Trish has problems but I suggest the cause of the juvenile delinquency might be primarily due to criminal cannabis dealers who have targeted the schoolchildren involved.In my opinion,the Police,not the CS have a duty to protect Trish and her daughter .The CS don’t have the power or ability to tackle criminal activity
        1.The supply of drugs needs to be stopped.
        2.The daughter can be controlled by the use of curfew,ASBO,a stern talking to by Police,plus monitoring and action against her truancy.
        3.Should the Police not investigate properly and merely refer the family to the CS,that will probably spell disaster for the family because if ‘threshold’ are not crossed,nothing effective will be done and matters left to deteriorate until they are met somewhere down the line.
        4.Were the Family Court able to make curfews and ASBO’s,tagging etc.and arrest drugs pushers,it would be different but the only thing they can do is put the child in care at least that seems to be their solution to most things.
        5.The CS can only make things worse.If children of that age go into care,the risk of institutional neglect and/or abuse is too great.Many girls of that age are laid open to grooming and prostitution.
        6.I wanted to stress a point.EVERY CITIZEN has a legal right to the full protection of the Law and that includes all of us whether rich or poor ( living in a low-class post code area).This right is further protected by ECHR protocol and the Police should not pass the buck to the CS.Only they can arrest criminals and control unruly gangs.
        7.The same principle ,in my opinion,applies in cases of domestic violence and coercive control.

        1. Angelo Granda

          8. The same principle and ECHR protocol also applies,In my layman’s opinion,when the authorities act unlawfully and/or criminally as we recently discussed on another thread.They should be reported to the Police who should investigate fully to protect families from institututional abuse not turn a blind eye to it.

  12. Angelo Granda

    I also suggest that you either give up work or start later so you can bring your daughter back under your control.Show everybody you fully acknowledge the problem in that regard or the LA might claim in a Family Court falsely that you have lost control of her.
    Be warned,they may not do anything at all nor will the Police.They tend to sit back whilst the situation gets worse and worse.
    Then next time something happens , they will have more excuse to remove your daughter into care.
    Then again,a lot depends on the area in which you live

  13. Shirley

    Is there a way to contact the owners of this site? There is very sensitive case information posted on here by a third party that contains identifying information about minors in a case. I want to find out how to have that information removed or at least blocked from public viewing.


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