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What to Expect: Pre-proceedings PLO (Public Law Outline)

Information for families about what to expect from Pre-proceedings and the PLO process

The PLO process is used when Children and Family Services believe that the risk to a child (or children) is so great that it might be necessary to ask the court to decide where a child will live and who they should live with.

Unless there is an emergency, Children and Family Services have to show the court what work they have done to support you and your family to resolve their concerns before going to court [Reference: B-S (Children) [2013] EWCA Civ 1146].

If you are a parent, or you have parental responsibility, you will receive a pre-proceedings letter inviting you to a pre-proceedings meeting.

This letter will tell you:

  • When and where the pre-proceedings meeting will be
  • What Children and Family Services are worried about
  • What you must do to show that your child (or children) are safe
  • What Children and Family Services will do to help you to carry out these actions

The letter will also tell you:

  • How to get free legal advice
  • Which solicitors can help you

It is very important that you go to the pre-proceedings meeting and that you read the pre-proceedings letter carefully, so that you understand what is happening and why.

You must seek the free legal advice you are entitled to immediately. This is the last chance you will have to show Children and Family Services that you can keep your child (or children) safe. A solicitor will help you to do this.


What happens at the pre-proceedings meeting

At the pre-proceedings meeting, families are given a final chance to show that they are willing to address the concerns which Children and Family Services have about the safety of their child (or children).

The following people will be at the pre-proceedings meeting:

  • Those with Parental Responsibility (PR) and carers
  • The allocated social worker and the manager who is overseeing the case
  • The families' lawyer(s)
  • The Local Authority's lawyer

Children and Family Services will bring the following paperwork to the meeting:

  • An up-to-date chronology
  • Assessment documents
  • Other relevant documents, for example, Child Protection Reports

At the meeting, everyone will agree a final plan showing what has to be done to keep a child (or children) safe, when these changes need to be made and who will check how well the child is being cared for.

If Children and Family Services still do not believe that your child (or children) are safe, the next step will be to ask the court to make a ruling on who your child should live with and where they should live.

Once a decision has been made by the court, only the court can change this.

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