Pre- Proceedings (Public Law Outline)
If a local authority is involved with your family, you will have a social worker assigned to do direct work with you and your child/ren. There are a different levels of social work intervention prior to court proceedings and these include PLO proceedings, child protection plans and child in need plans.
The public law outline (PLO) sets out the duties local authorities have when thinking about taking a case to court to ask for a care order to take a child into care of for a supervision order to be made. This is often described as initiating public law care proceedings.
The local authority may decide to invite parents to a Public Law Outline Meeting (PLO) or a pre-proceedings meeting. A PLO meeting tends to be the last opportunity to try to resolve matters by agreement prior to the issue of care proceedings.
What happens at a PLO Meeting?
It is a meeting attended by the Local Authority (Social Worker, Team manager and solicitor) together with the parents to see if an agreement can be reached or negotiated to prevent the matter going to Court
How long should the PLO last?
The PLO should last a maximum of 10 weeks except in exceptional circumstances.
Should I attend the PLO meeting?
It is very important that if you have received a notice of intention to commence care proceedings and invited to a PLO meeting that you attend. A solicitor will be able to attend the meeting with you and provide advice as to the process involved.
Will I be entitled to legal aid?
If you have received a notice of intention to commence care proceedings you will be entitled to free legal advice under the public law legal help scheme.
Childcare & Social Services Legal Advice
If Social Services are involved with your family situation and you have been asked to attend a Pre-Proceedings meeting (PLO meeting), remember you have the right to have a Solicitor present with you for those meetings and you will be entitled to Legal Aid.
The Care Department, headed by Sheena Donlon has a track record of achieving positive changes for her clients which have often resulted in reduced Local Authority involvement. Please call on 020 3601 5051 for a free consultation
Child Protection Issues
Child Protection Conferences
A Child Protection Conference is a meeting between family members and professionals involved to include the Local Authority about a child’s safety, health and development. The conference is designed to look at the relevant information and circumstances to determine how best to safeguard the child and promote their welfare. The conference will hear information and concerns expressed and there will be a discussion as to whether or not the child is at significant harm and whether the child should be placed on the child protection plan.
Who attends the conference?
All professionals involved will attend such as school, GP, police or health visitor. The parents of the child(ren) will also be invited to attend.
What is a child protection plan?
The plan should assess the likelihood of the child suffering harm and looks at ways the child can be protected
What are the categories that a child can be registered?
There are 4 categories that a child can be placed on the register; neglect, sexual abuse, physical abuse and emotional abuse.
Should I attend the conference?
Yes you should attend the conference in order to discuss the concerns held by the professionals and to have your voice heard
Can I bring a solicitor?
A solicitor can attend the conference with you although their role is limited to provide support and guidance to you
Is legal aid available?
You may be entitled to assistance under the legal help scheme although this is means and merits tested.
Legal Help with Child Protection Conferences
National Legal Service Solicitors has a number of specialist child care solicitors with specialisms in child protection and Court of Protection cases.
The Child Care Department, headed by Sheena Donlon has a track record of achieving positive changes for her clients and frequently advice client seeking help with child care matters or those who are facing a Child Protection Conference . Please call on 020 3601 5051 for a free consultation
Child in Need Plans
A child in need plans describe any identified developmental needs of a child and any services provided. It will contain the support which is being provided to a child and the family by Social Services.
What is a child in need meeting?
A child in need (CIN) meeting will be held with Social Services to assess whether a child requires extra help from professionals to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development
Can I bring a solicitor to the meeting?
Solicitors are unable to attend CIN meetings, however you can speak to a solicitor prior to the meeting if you have any concerns about what is going to happen
Is legal aid available?
Public funding is not readily available in these types of matters, however you may benefit from speaking to a solicitor who is willing to provide free advice over the telephone
Children Lawyers –Children in Need Plans
National Legal Service Solicitors’ children lawyers can also advise on Provisions for a Child in Need and how to ensure a child receives the support they need from the local authority. Our child care solicitors specialise in dealing with complex and sensitive child care proceeding