Social Services will become involved with your family if they have concern for the welfare of your child. Social Services could be worried about issues such as the child being exposed to domestic abuse, parental drug or alcohol misuse or neglect. They may also become concerned if your child has an unexplained injury or has made allegations of sexual abuse.
Social Services should work with you to keep your child at home in the care of their family. They may have meetings with you about your child, such as Child in Need meetings or Child Protection Case Conferences. It is important that concerns of Social Services are taken seriously to make sure that your child can stay at home.
If the Social Worker is not satisfied that the circumstances of your child are improving, they may invite you to a Public Law Outlines meeting (PLO meeting), also referred to as ‘pre-proceeding’ meetings. These meetings are legal meetings. The child’s parents will be invited to bring a solicitor to the meeting, and the Social Worker will also have a solicitor present.
The PLO meeting is a very serious meeting and is the last step the Local Authority will take before making an application to court in relation to your child. You will receive a letter before a PLO meeting which should set out clearly what steps you and the Local Authority need to take to avoid an application to court. Failure to attend the meeting will lead to the Local Authority going to court in relation to your child.
Our family solicitors at Lockings have attended many PLO meetings with families who require expert support and guidance. Our family solicitors will assist you at the meeting and make sure that you fully understand what is expected of both you and the Social Workers, to improve the situation for your child. We will also help you challenge any decision making of the Local Authority which appears unreasonable. In many cases, this support and guidance from a family solicitor will mean that care proceedings in the court can be avoided.
Legal Aid is always available for parents who have been invited to a PLO meeting, which means that you will not have to pay for the help and advice of your family solicitor.
If you have received a PLO letter, for confidential and friendly advice, contact our family law solicitors in Hull and Beverley for an initial chat on 01482 300 200 today or send an e-mail enquiry and we will contact you for a discussion as soon as possible.