Local Authority Care Matters - Child Protection

Our experienced and specialist child care team understand that when social workers become involved with your family, it can be a scary, confusing and overwhelming time. Our team will guide you through the process, providing advice to ensure the best possible outcome is achieved.

We are able to provide advice in relation to:

  • Child Protection Conferences
  • Public Law Outline (PLO) meetings
  • S20 agreements (voluntary agreements to place your child in the care of the Local Authority)
  • Emergency Protection Orders (EPO)
  • Police Protection Powers (PPO)
  • Care orders
  • Supervision orders
  • Special Guardianship Orders
  • Placement orders
  • Adoption proceedings
  • Deprivation of Liberty
  • Secure Accommodation
  • Contact with children in care
  • Applications to discharge care orders or placement orders

Our child care team have extensive experience representing parents, relatives, intervenors and children with regard to a wide variety of complex matters where there has been alleged:

  • Non accidental injury
  • Sexual abuse
  • Fictitious and induced illness
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Mental health and capacity concerns
  • Domestic abuse
  • Neglect
  • Drug & Alcohol misuse

Anthony Forde and Holly McCarthy are both on the Law Society's Children Law panel, which entitles them to represent children as well as adults in all types of family proceedings.

What is a PLO or Pre-Proceeding Meeting?

When social services are very concerned about the welfare of a child, the social worker may wish to consider taking the case to Court so they can make Court Orders to protect the child.

PLO stands for 'Public Law Outline', which is a set of rules which tells social workers how to deal with these sorts of cases.

The Public Law Outline rules say that when social workers are thinking that they may need to go to Court they should invite the parents to a meeting to discuss their concerns. This is also known as a 'pre-proceedings' or 'PLO' meeting.

This meeting considers what needs to be done to protect the child from harm, and how an agreement can be reached to ensure this. The aim is to see if any problems can be fixed without needing to go to Court.

WHAT ARE CARE PROCEEDINGS?

Care Proceedings begin when social services make an application to the Court for a Court Order to potentially remove a child from his or her parents or carer, because the social worker believes there is a serious risk a child might be harmed.

Social services can apply for one of the following Orders:

Care Order -The Local Authority (social services) would share parental responsibility for a child under this Order and can decide where the child shall live, with whom and also has the final say on important decisions relating to the child.

Supervision Order -The child is allowed to stay with the parent/s or family member, but it is the social worker's duty to the family to befriend, advise and assist them. This means the social worker will visit the family regularly, offer support and resources and may require the parents to do various things to improve their parenting. A Supervision Order will last for a year but the Local Authority may ask the Court to extend it for up to three years.

Emergency Protection Order -Any person may apply for such an Order but applications are normally made by social workers. These Court Orders are rare and are only made when the social worker believes the child is at immediate risk of actual harm and needs to be removed to a place of safety. They only last for a short period of time and are normally followed by an application for a Care Order which will be considered within days.

Only a Court may approve the removal of a child, although the police may remove a child to suitable accommodation for no more than 72 hours under their powers of police protection (PPO) if they believe the child would otherwise suffer significant harm.

Care proceedings should always be a last resort.

The Court must aim to conclude the proceedings within 26 weeks and will consider whether any assessments are required for the Court to be able to conclude the proceedings justly.

LEGAL AID

Legal aid is provided for parents (and anyone else with Parental Responsibility for the child), regardless of your financial situation if the Local Authority invite you to a PLO meeting or make a Court application for a Care, Supervision or Emergency Protection Order.

This means you do not have to worry about representing yourself, as you are entitled to a solicitor free of charge.

If you are seeking legal advice and/or need representation to act for you in respect of any of the above matters then please call 01344 622141 or email info@campbellhooperco.co.uk