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Guide to social care services

Children and young people’s services

Children’s services support and protect vulnerable children, young people, their families and carers.

If you're worried about your child's general development or wellbeing and you think they need additional support, you might want to speak to your child’s GP or teacher first. Wellbeing includes their health and educational needs as well as their social care needs. Ask for advice on what to do next, such as getting an assessment of your child’s needs, using bereavement counselling or joining a young carers group.

If you or your child needs more significant support, contact the children’s services team in your local council for a needs assessment. "Children’s services" is the new term that has replaced "social services".

Use the GOV.UK website to find your local council and get advice about an assessment.

The needs assessment will determine if you need more specialised support. Children’s services must work with you when making any decisions about your child, including what help they will provide to meet your child’s needs. Therefore, you should discuss with them the types of help that would best meet the needs of your family.

Below are the main services available.

Children with disabilities

Additional help is available for children and parents with a disability: 

Family support

This involves help looking after your child, such as:

  • day care for children under five
  • help with parenting such as parenting classes
  • courses or family support workers
  • practical home help
  • access to a Children’s Centre

Services may also be provided by education or health authorities or by voluntary organisations. Many of these services are available to all families.

The Family Rights Group is a charity that offers independent specialist information and advice about family support. You can call their advice line on 0808 801 0366, visit the Family Rights Group website or see the Family Rights Group's advice sheets on family support.

Child protection

Child protection is available to children and young people who are at risk of significant harm and need protecting. This includes harm from physical, emotional or sexual abuse and neglect.

Read information about your child's safety.  


If children’s services suspect that a child may be at risk of harm, they must look into the child’s situation and take any action necessary to keep them safe and promote their welfare. 

If child protection enquiries have been made about your child, it does not necessarily mean that your child will be taken away from you. However, your child will be interviewed or medically examined without you being present.

The Family Rights Group offers independent specialist information and advice to families about child protection procedures. For more information, read the Family Rights Group's advice sheets on child protection.

Looked-after children

Children’s services are also responsible for foster care and residential care for children who cannot live with their parents, family or friends, whether this is short or long term.

Visit our Adoption and fostering section on the site and get tips and reals stories 

The Family Rights Group offers independent specialist information and advice to families about children who are looked after in care. For more information, read the Family Rights Group's advice sheets about children in care.


Page last reviewed: 09/07/2014

Next review due: 09/10/2014

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