Your guide to care and support

Children and young people's services

If you're worried about your child's development or wellbeing and you think they need extra support, speak to their GP, health visitor, teacher or nursery worker first.

Ask for advice about what to do next to help your child. If you or your child needs more significant support, contact the children's services team at your local council for a needs assessment.

This page covers:

Needs assessments

Family support

Children with special educational needs and disabilities

Looked-after children

Child protection

Needs assessments

A needs assessment is carried out by the children's services team at your local council and determines if your child needs more specialised support.

Children's services must work with you when making decisions about your child, so discuss with them the type of help that would best meet the needs of your family.

Family support

Family support can include 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

Support services may also be provided by education or health authorities, or by voluntary organisations.

Many of these services are available to all families. Check your local council's website to see what's available in your area.

You may also find support from these charities:

Children with special educational needs and disabilities

Additional help is available for parents and children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Looked-after children

Local authority children's services have responsibilities for the children they look after who live with foster carers or in residential care on either a short- or long-term basis.

These organisations also offer information and advice:

  • Coram Children's Legal Centre – offers free legal information, advice and representation to children, young people, their families, carers and professionals.
  • The Fostering Network – offers information and advice to foster carers.
  • BAAF – the British Association for Adoption and Fostering promotes standards of practice in adoption, fostering and childcare services.

The Family Rights Group offers independent specialist information and advice for families about children who are looked after in care.

For more information, read the Family Rights Group's advice sheets about looked-after children.

Read more about adoption and fostering for useful tips and real-life stories.

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.

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 doesn't necessarily mean your child will be taken away from you. But your child will be interviewed or medically examined without you being present.

The Family Rights Group offers independent specialist information and advice for families about child protection procedures.

For more information, read the Family Rights Group's advice sheets about child protection. 

Dealing with child sex abuse

It can be difficult to know whether a child is being abused, as the abuser may be secretive about their actions. In this video, aimed at parents and carers, a child sex abuse consultant from the Marie Collins Foundation explains what to do if you think a child is being harmed, and how to discuss the subject of abuse with a child.

Media last reviewed: 02/06/2016

Next review due: 02/06/2019

Page last reviewed: 04/10/2017

Next review due: 04/10/2020

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