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This refers to the procedures that children’s services must follow if they are thinking about starting care proceedings. These procedures are set in the Public Law Outline (often referred to as the ‘PLO’). This is the legal framework which sets out the duties that children’s services have and the processes they must follow when they are thinking about taking a case to court.
The first step children’s services should take is to send a letter before proceedings to the parents (and anyone else who has parental responsibility). This letter will invite them to a ‘pre-proceedings meeting’. Social workers and solicitors sometimes call this a ‘PLO meeting’.
The pre-proceedings process is a chance for parents and children’s services to work together. The aim is to get to a point where children’s services are satisfied that the parents can care for their child safely. If the concerns are around the child or young person being beyond parental control, then the process will focus on how to ensure their safety.
During the pre-proceedings process, the parents will be assessed (for example through a parenting assessment, if that hasn’t already happened). This should also be an opportunity for children’s services to put in place support for the family, where needed.