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At Ramsdens, our experienced Child Law team understand that receiving a PLO letter can leave you feeling confused, concerned, and unsure of how to proceed. We can offer you practical and compassionate advice and help you come to a resolution with your children's best interests at heart.

The Public Law Outline (PLO) takes place when the Local Authority is concerned about a child’s wellbeing. The Local Authority have a legal duty to investigate any concerns they have about any child in their area and the care they are receiving from their parents. The PLO process is often the last opportunity for parents to make improvements to their parenting and prove they can work with the Local Authority before care proceedings are issued. If positive steps are not taken to address and resolve those concerns, the Local Authority may consider making an application to the Court.

Parents or any person with parental responsibility will be invited to a PLO meeting if there are concerns about the child or children.

Before a PLO takes place, a letter entitled “letter before proceedings” will be sent to the parents stating that they are to attend a PLO including a date and time for the meeting. The letter itself will list the concerns held by the Local Authority and should provide examples of what they are concerned about.

The PLO meeting is attended by the Local Authority solicitor, Team manager, social worker and the parents along with their legal representatives. The team manager will explain the reasons why the PLO process has been initiated and what support can be offered by Social Care. During the meeting, the parents will have the opportunity to respond to the concerns outlined in the letter they have received.

It is likely that social care will want the parents to sign a document called a ‘written agreement’ which sets out what is expected of them and what they agree to do to resolve the Local Authority’s concerns. This is not legally binding. However, if it is breached, the Local Authority are likely to escalate matters further and rely on the breaches if they apply to the Court. Another meeting may take place so matters agreed at the first meeting can be reviewed and a decision made as to whether the PLO process needs to continue.

If parents do not attend the meeting, there is a real risk that the Local Authority will decide to go to Court about their child.

The PLO process usually lasts around 3 months but can be extended if there is outstanding work that needs to be completed. It can also be much shorter if the Local Authority don’t think there are sufficient improvements.

If you need any advice in respect of PLO Proceedings, please call 01924 431 774, or send an email to care@ramsdens.co.uk. We are here to help.

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