In care proceedings it is most often the case that the parties involved are a small circle consisting of the local authority, the parents, and the children through their representative, the children's guardian, a professional appointed by the court...
When social workers are concerned about the welfare of a child to the extent that they are considering taking the case to court, this is known as the ‘pre-proceedings’ or ‘Public Law Outline’ (PLO) process. It is often an escalation of child protection procedures.
The social services department should send a letter sometimes known as a ‘PLO letter’, ‘pre-proceedings letter’ or ‘letter before proceedings’. This should set out the concerns of the social services department. It should also set out what the expectations of the social services department are, if proceedings are to be avoided.
The letter will invite you to a meeting known as a ‘PLO meeting’ or ‘pre-proceedings meeting’. You are able to have a solicitor present at such meetings who can advise and support you before, during and after the meeting and help negotiate an agreement to try to avoid the need to go to court. The hope is that the parents can recognise the concerns and take steps to address them.