Public Law Outline Meetings with Social Services

Posted: 09 December 2023

What is a Public Law Outline meeting?

A Public Law Outline meeting, or “PLO” meeting is the name Social Services, also known as the Local Authority, give to a meeting to discuss a child’s welfare. This is also sometimes called a Pre-proceedings meeting or “PPM”.

The Local Authority issue a letter to state that they are so concerned about your child’s safety and the standard of care they are receiving, that they wish to discuss that further with you. The letter usually contains a warning to state that you should seek to obtain independent legal advice, and our children’s team are here to help.

The Local Authority have duties to safeguard the children in their area, so this meeting is arranged to ensure that your child is having their needs met. As well as to make progress on any changes that need to be made to safeguard your child within your specific circumstances.

Public Law Outline Meetings
What does the meeting involve?

The meeting is usually held at the Local Authority offices, inviting parents to attend. If you receive a letter from the Local Authority inviting you to one of these meetings then you will be automatically eligible for legal aid. One of our dedicated children’s solicitors will be able to provide you with advice on the process and attend the meeting with you.

Often when parents have separated, the Local Authority will hold separate meetings. The child’s social worker, team manager and legal representative will also be at the meeting. Minutes are usually taken by another person present at the meeting who will record what has been said and provide a copy of this to you a few weeks after the meeting.

The Local Authority will set out what their concerns have been in the past. The intention of the meeting is to reach a formal agreement with you about what improvements can be made for the child, including any assessments that they wish to complete. We can advise you on the type of assessments and the plan the Local Authority wish to complete with you.

Your final opportunity

The Local Authority will make it clear at the meeting that if changes cannot be made within the PLO period, usually a few months unless an immediate issue arises, then they will look to issue Care Proceedings. This could involve asking the Court for your child being removed from your care. The PLO process is the last opportunity you have to demonstrate to the Local Authority that you can safely care for your child.

After the meeting

A date for the next meeting, known as a review meeting, will be set with the Local Authority where your progress will be discussed. The outcome of this process could be:

  1. Social Services end the process as you have made significant positive changes; or
  2. More assessments and support to be provided to your family; or
  3. Issuing Court proceedings, known as Care Proceedings, where they may ask for your child to be removed from your care.

It is very important that at the earliest opportunity you seek to work with the Local Authority. We can provide you with advice on what is fair to your family and circumstances, and be on hand to provide advice throughout the process.

If you receive a letter inviting, you to a PLO meeting or pre-proceedings meeting please contact one of our specialist children’s solicitors on 01245 493959 selecting option 3 or send us an email.

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