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Support for parents and carers

Support for parents and carers

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs, especially as children don't come with a handbook!

We could all do with some additional information and support from time to time. Find out more about what parenting support and advice is available in York:

Early Help is a way of describing the extra support a family can receive if they need it. Early Help is all about providing the right support to children and families at the earliest possible time; it brings together workers who can support the whole family to try and improve things for everyone.

If you can't find what you're after contact York Family Information Service by telephone: 01904 554444 or email: [email protected] who will be happy to help, or visit our online services search directory.

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It's not nice to think that your child is being bullied. Bullying is all too common and can happen to anyone at any age. Being bullied at school, home, or online might involve:

  • verbal bullying for example, calling you names
  • emotional bullying for example, teasing you, talking about you or leaving you out
  • physical bullying for example, pushing you or hitting you
  • cyber-bullying for example, text message, Facebook or email

Tackling bullying is taken seriously in York. Since 2011, schools in York have been invited to take part in a survey about bullying involving children and young people.

If you feel or know you child is being bullied the first step is to talk to their school. Each school will have their own policy on behaviour and bullying. Please refer to your child's school website.

As well as talking to an adult at school, children and young people can ring Childline on telephone: 0800 11 11 and talk to them about anything that has upset them or makes them worry.

Visit our online services search directory or contact York Family Information Service or the Young People's Information Service for a tailored list of local and national support services.

Advice and support is also available from a range of websites:

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Parents and carers, friends or any member of the public can contact the MASH to discuss your concerns, contact MASH by:

  • telephone: 01904 551900
  • email: [email protected]
  • Post: 
    MASH, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA
  • outside office hours, at weekends and on public holidays contact the emergency duty team telephone: 0300 131 2131

PREVENT/Hate Crime

You should report hate crime if you have been a victim of it or witnessed it.

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York Learning deliver family learning courses, workshops and sessions to support parents and families in York. Courses offered are often linked with children's learning and development and some courses include support with digital skills and technology.

Parents and carers who are more confident and take an active interest in learning themselves act as positive role models for their children. If you want to give your child a good start or are considering a career working in schools or childcare settings, check out the courses offered by Family Learning and the wider range of courses provided by the York Learning team.

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Fostering is about looking after children in a safe and secure environment when they can't live with their own families.

Following incidents such as family difficulties, illness or drug related problems it is sometimes best for a child to be placed in a foster home.

Private Fostering

Private fostering is when someone, who is not a close relative, cares for another person's child (aged up to 16 or under 18, if disabled) for 28 days or more. Although this is done by private arrangement, the parent and the carer has a legal obligation to notify the local authority where the child is going to live, so that the local authority can ensure that the child is being looked after properly.


Adoption is the legal process by which a child who cannot be brought up by their own parents legally becomes a full and permanent member of a new family and the adoptive parents gain full parental responsibility of the child.

Family Rights Group

The Family Rights Group work with parents whose children are in need, at risk or are in the care system and with members of the wider family, who are raising children unable to remain at home. They offer a free and confidential telephone and digital advice service, providing legal and practical advice to families and much more. Email: [email protected] or telephone: 0808 801 0366 for more information.

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The internet is part of many people's day-to day-life and as parents, it's important to understand what children and young people are doing online.

Safer Children York has lots of information to help keep children and young people safe online.

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Children and young people can face a lot of different challenges throughout their childhood, including growing and changing friendships, the birth of siblings, moving home or school, academic pressures or changing family dynamics.

Parenting courses can help you learn strategies that can help you to support your child to regulate their behaviour and emotions.

York Family Information Service can support you to find courses, to increase confidence and receive support when parenting children and young people, when these different challenges arise. We've listed the details of some parenting course providers in the city, who offer both online and face to face parenting courses and settings.

If you're unsure of which course would be suitable for you, contact the providers below to discuss your concerns and they will be able to advise you on which course would be the most appropriate to provide the parenting support you need. Parenting courses can help you learn strategies that can help you to support your child to regulate their behaviour and emotions.

Bright Sparks

Bright Sparks deliver a range of courses, including developing emotional resilience for parents, held at various venues across York.

Family Matters York

Family Matters York deliver a range of parenting and relationship programmes, across York.

Online parenting courses

Netmums Parenting Course - this course has been put together with Family Links. It aims to give parents faith in their own abilities.

Parents Together Online - 6 interactive blocks filled with helpful techniques and ideas, covering; promoting well-being, the power of communication, understanding behaviour, positive behaviour, play, and boundaries.

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Live Well York provides information on groups and services aimed at York residents aged 18 and over.

As a parent we can often forget about ourselves and what makes us tick and what support we may need or when looking after older members of our families.

Find out about services, activities and groups for any adult aged 18 and over and living in York.

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All relationships have tricky moments, it's how they’re experienced and resolved that matters. The Relationships Matter website can give tips on how to improve your relationship, help you work out what needs to happen and signpost you to organisations that can help.

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The Family Planning Association website has tips and advice on how to talk to your child about growing up, relationships and sex.

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Tackling child sexual exploitation is everyone’s responsibility. Safer Child York Partnership's Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation raises awareness about signs of child sexual exploitation and abuse, what to do if you suspect abuse or exploitation and tips for talking to your children.

What is a Family Group Conference?

A Family Group Conference (FGC) is a family-led decision-making and planning process, arranged and facilitated by an Independent Co-ordinator, to help families develop their own solutions to the challenges they are facing. In order to access this service, your child’s social worker will need to make a referral. Please watch the York Family Group Conference Service Animation for further information.

FGC works on the premise that when families are given the right information, when they understand the concerns for children that they can make the best decisions and plans about their family.

Every family is unique. FGCs are intended as an empowering process during which parents, children, wider family members and friends are given clear information about safeguarding concerns and are asked to produce a plan to address those concerns.

A facilitator will help you arrange your Family Group Conference. They are an ‘independent facilitator’. Independent means that they are there to support you and will not be involved in making decisions about your family. During a Family Group Conference, there is plenty of time for the family to meet alone.

Why have a Family Group Conference?

We believe that when families are given the right information and support, they are very able to make the best decisions about their family. This is because we believe that nobody understands a family better than the people living in it.

We want to help your family make these decisions by offering all the necessary information and assistance you may need to come up with a plan.

What happens at a Family Group Conference?

Prior to the Family Group Conference, the facilitator will work closely with all identified members of your family and network taking part in the FGC, make sure everyone understands the process clearly and feels comfortable and able to attend, with a clear understanding of the aims of the FGC.

A Family Group Conference will be held at a location that is convenient and comfortable for your family. The first part of the meeting will be led by the facilitator, whose job it is to support your family to gather together at an agreed time and place. Firstly, the facilitator will ensure that people who work with your family give you a clear and straightforward account of the issues and decisions to be made and what financial and other assistance could be available to help you and your family, if needed, to carry out any plans.

When you are ready, you will be left in private as a family, to talk things through together. If you need further information, the facilitator will always be on hand to help you with this. Your family may take some time to discuss the situation and decide on the best solution. There is no need to hurry. We will make your family as comfortable as possible and make sure there are things for the children to do, if necessary.

Families themselves may not always agree. If this happens, the facilitator will try to help you and your family come to an agreement.

What happens next?

When your family has worked out your decisions, the facilitator will re-join you and go over the plan with you. If you require any help or support with finalising your plan, the facilitator can help. This will help in making sure that those working with your family accept the plan.

The facilitator will then ask the lead professional (the FGC referrer) to re-join the meeting, to agree the plan. Unless it is considered that the decisions and plans made by your family will put a young person in danger, the plan will be accepted, and lead professionals will work with you to put the plan into action.

The facilitator will take the agreed plan away to type up and will send it to all whose who attended the meeting.

Do children and young people attend the Family Group Conference?

Our view is that children and young people should always be invited to be involved in the Family Group Conference. For a successful plan, it is important that their wishes and feelings are made clear and actively taken into consideration by the adults. Families do usually include the children and young person in making plans but if there are any real problems with this, the family can ask the facilitator to help.

What if I decide this is not for me, can I stop the process?

Yes, the process is completely voluntary.

Who should come to a Family Group Conference?

Who comes to the Family Group Conference will be different for each family. Some families maybe worried about certain relatives coming to the meeting. We would suggest that the best people to help a young person are nearly always their relatives.

Sometimes you will want family friends to attend, as they can feel more like family than relatives themselves. Any worries about who should attend can be discussed with your facilitator. In any discussions it is the needs and well-being of the young person which is of the greatest importance.

What happens if Children’s Services do not agree with our plan?

Children’s services will only disagree with a plan if they think it will leave the child or young person at risk in some way. Where the plan is not accepted, they will explain why. You may then decide to amend the plan or even hold another family meeting to change the plan.

What if things don’t get better?

A Family Group Conference isn’t a magic wand. Everyone - you, your family and social worker - has to try their best to make the plan work. Often a second meeting (a review) in a few weeks or months’ time is a good way to see how it is going.


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There are lots of local and national services to support separated families, including child contact matters. Further information is below and you can also search for family and parenting support online, using our online services search directory.

Child Contact Arrangements

Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to arrange contact with the other parent amicably. Where this may not be possible you will need to seek support from elsewhere, here are some services that can help you:

Child Maintenance

The information which Child Maintenance Options has provided is not a substitute for independent professional advice and users should obtain professional advice relevant to their particular circumstances.

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