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Children's social care

See how we can help if you are worried about the wellbeing of a child or young person.

Published: 9 February 2021

Last updated: 17 May 2022

Worried about a child

If you are worried that a child or young person might need help or is being neglected or hurt, it is important that you share your worries. Many people are worried that contacting children's social services will mean that children are taken into care. In fact, unless a child is in danger, we will work hard with parents to help and support them so that the family can stay together.  Of course where there is a serious issue of abuse or neglect we will protect children together with the police and other agencies.

If you are worried that someone is in immediate danger please call 999.

If you have concerns about the safety of a child you should get in contact straight away on the below numbers:

  • Access to Children's Services team 020 7641 4000 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) or Emergency Duty Team 020 7641 2388 (outside of these times).

The Access team provides a single point of contact for professionals and members of the public who want to seek support or raise concerns about a child. We will listen, assess your concerns, and can take action if a child is at risk.

If you're not sure whether a child is at risk you can discuss the circumstances with us or with someone else who works with children, such as a teacher, health visitor or the NSPCC.

All professionals who work with children have a responsibility to safeguard them and will know how to help.

How to get support

Refer yourself or a child by contacting us on on 020 7641 6000 9am to 5pm weekdays (or the Emergency Duty team outside these hours) or ask a professional you are working with to help. We will need to talk to you and your family to find out what your needs are and what we can offer you and agree a way forward.

You may be referred to a community or voluntary agency, or might be offered support through our Family Hub / children's centres or via our Early Help service. 

For professionals

MAARF - How to make a referral

If you are a professional and you have concerns about a child you are working with you should discuss this with the family and complete a MAARF (Multi-Agency Assessment and Referral Form). This will allow you to securely submit information about the child which will help inform our contact. The first time you submit a MAARF you will need to register on the system. You should complete this form if you need to make a referral to Family Services or Early Help that is not an emergency. If you are concerned a child is at immediate risk of harm you should call the phone numbers listed above.