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Child Care Law
When Social Workers are concerned about the welfare of a child (this means their safety, physical health, mental health and emotional health) a Local Authority may invite the parents to attend a Public Law Outline Meeting (known as a PLO meeting.)
The Social Worker should provide a letter known as a “Letter before Issue.” This sets out the date for the PLO meeting and the reasons why the Local Authority are worried about your child/children.
Yes, you are entitled to Legal Aid funding irrespective of your circumstances if you are a parent or a person with Parental Responsibility for a child (for example, you have an order for a child to live with you.)
PLO meetings a very serious. They are often described as a “last chance.” If parents/carers do not work with the Local Authority and make changes, then the Local Authority’s next step would be to issue Court Proceedings. This could, at worst, mean an application for the children to be removed from their parent’s care.
A PLO meeting is attended by the Local Authority, the Social Worker and usually a Team Manager. The parents and their solicitor are also invited to these meetings. In short, everyone is given an opportunity to speak during the meeting and the Local Authority set out what they want to happen in order to avoid going to Court. Your solicitor will advise you about the meeting, and if necessary ask for meetings in order to discuss matters in more detail. Often, a further review PLO meeting will be scheduled so that everyone can meet to discuss any progress that has been made.
If you receive a letter you should seek urgent legal advice. It is so important that you take action at an early stage to give you the best possible chance of resolving issues with the Local Authority.