If you have received a letter from the local authority, often called a PLO letter or pre-proceedings you will need to ensure that you take this letter to a solicitor. This letter will detail the local authority’s concerns about your child and outline steps that you will need to take to avoid court proceedings. Beck Fitzgerald specialises in representing parent’s in the PLO process.
Every Local Authority (through their social services department) has a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children living in their area. The Local Authority should try to work with a family in the first instance to try to resolve the issues of concern.
The Local Authority may become involved with a family where no court proceedings have been commenced. This is known as the Public Law Outline (2014) programme or the ‘pre-proceedings process’. This is a process whereby the Local Authority will seek to work with the parents and wider family with the view to avoiding the need for court proceedings where they have welfare concerns relating to a child.
To initiate the pre-proceedings process, social services will send parents a pre-proceedings letter. This letter will set out the concerns that the Local Authority has surrounding the child. The letter will also clearly set out what the Local Authority expects of the parent in order to avoid court proceedings and a child being taken into the care of the Local Authority.
Within the pre-proceedings letter, the Local Authority will also provide a date for a pre-proceedings meeting. This is an opportunity for the parent to discuss the concerns of the Local Authority and will be attended by the children’s social worker and a member of the Local Authority legal department.
The parent will also be expected to attend this meeting. Therefore it is suggested and important that they appoint a solicitor to advise them ahead of and at the meeting, as well as represent them at this meeting.
Parents that are involved in the pre-proceedings process are usually eligible for Legal Aid/Public Funding. This means that parents can receive support in paying for a legal representative to advise them ahead of the pre-proceedings meeting and also represent them during the meeting.
It is important for you to get legal advice as early as possible so that you can understand the concerns of the Local Authority, the procedures you may face and how to address the situation. Taking such steps may avoid the need for the Local Authority to issue court proceedings.
For all Child Care related matters contact us now on firstname.lastname@example.org or 020 7101 3090