If Children’s Services have concerns about the safety of your child and believe he/she is at risk of harm then you may receive a pre-proceedings (PLO) letter. This letter will be headed PRE-PROCEEDINGS LETTER and will state that you should take a copy of the letter to a Solicitor. It is important that you seek advice as soon as possible.
You will be required to attend a PLO meeting for the local authority to share its concerns with you, set out what steps you must take to alleviate those concerns, and what it will do to assist you.
You need to co-operate with Children’ Services which includes allowing the social worker to visit your child and your home, attending any meetings and following the advice given to you by any professionals.
You may be asked to undertake some work/courses to help keep your child safe such as a parenting course, budgeting course, Domestic Violence awareness course, or access support through the substance misuse support service if there any issues with drugs/alcohol.
You need to identify any family members or friends who could potentially care for your child in the event that he/she cannot remain in your care. The local authority will need their contact details so it can carry out an assessment of those people identified to ensure they would be suitable and safe to care for your child.
You must adhere to any plans in place to keep your child safe such as a working agreement, child protection plan and PLO Plan.
If there is risk of DV, you must consider taking protective action such as informing the police, seeking a non-molestation order against the perpetrator or moving to a refuge.
You may be asked to sign a section 20 agreement to enable the local authority to voluntarily accommodate your child. Do not sign anything until you have sought legal advice on this issue.
Remember the PLO process is the stage before Court Proceedings and the last chance for you to make changes to stop the local authority from applying to the Court for an order in respect of your child.
It is therefore very important that you seek advice and make the required changes to safely care for your child as soon as possible.