On 22nd April 2014, the Public Law Outline (PLO) 2014 for care, supervision and other proceedings under the Children Act 1989 came into effect.
The PLO process is initiated by a letter from the Local Authority to parent(s) when there are concerns over the care of children who social services think are at risk of significant harm. This PLO letter will advise that social services are considering starting Care Proceedings, and will list their concerns and what the parents can do to avoid proceedings being issued.
The letter will set out a list of improvements that must be made in order to prevent the case being taken to Court.
Details of a meeting to discuss these concerns are given within the letter and the relevant parents are advised to bring legal representation with them to the meeting.
If you have had one of these letters it is important that you take advice as soon as possible. This is funded by free Legal Aid regardless of your circumstances.
Who is present at a PLO meeting?
Both of the parents of the child at risk are entitled to attend with their legal representatives, provided they both have involvement with the child.
The child’s social worker will attend along with their manager and legal representation for the Local Authority.
If there are allegations of domestic violence then there may be a separate meeting for the mother and father.
What happens after the initial PLO meeting?
Following the initial PLO meeting, a further review PLO meeting may be scheduled if the Local Authority can see that improvements are being made.
However, if this is not the case and the parents are not engaging in the PLO process, then social services might take the case to Court and issue Care Proceedings. If they do, then it is essential to obtain legal advice to protect your position. Free legal aid is available for parents in this situation.
In Care Proceedings, if an order is made, your child may be removed into foster care or placed with a family member while assessments take place.
How can Nelsons help you?
If you have received a PLO letter before proceedings from the Local Authority regarding the care of your child and would like advice regarding this, please contact our expert team of accredited children law solicitors in Derby, Leicester and Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online enquiry form.
We can help you by attending the meeting and making sure your rights are fully protected. You will not have to pay for this if you have received a PLO letter.