There are many reasons why Social Services “The Local Authority” could become involved with your family. This is because the Local Authority has a duty of care within the Law to provide support and assistance to any child in their area, where there is an identified need. This is not always something to worry about and will often be a source of vital support and assistance to a family during an otherwise difficult time.
Our specialist care solicitors are here to provide thorough and confidential legal advice.
Feel free to write to us if you have a question about your matter. We are more than happy to answer your queries and assist you with your matter should you choose to instruct us.
In addition to providing support and assistance to children, The Local Authority also has a duty to protect any child that is brought to their attention and who, it is believed, has suffered or is at risk of suffering harm of any kind.
The Local Authority receives information from a variety of sources. This can be from anonymous persons, concerned family members or friends or even other professionals, i.e. Schools, Health Services, the Police etc. The information received can sometimes be so serious that emergency investigations or action has to be taken to protect the child(ren). In other cases a slower pattern of growing concern, over a longer period of time causes the Local Authority to take action.
The type of information received by the Local Authority will determine the steps taken in relation to your child(ren). If the concerns are extremely serious, for example, a child is injured and the explanation of how that injury happened cannot be given, the Local Authority may issue court proceedings immediately. These proceedings could be either Care Order or Supervision Order proceedings or Emergency Protection Order proceedings.
In less serious cases, the Local Authority may start a Public Law Outline Pre-Proceedings Process (PLO process). This is where the Local Authority will invite Parents to specially arranged meetings to discuss with them the concerns the Local Authority has and try to work together with the Parent/s to resolve these concerns. This process is the final available step which the Local Authority takes before it makes an application to the Court for a Care Order or Supervision Order.
In any of the above situations it is vital for Parents to come to us for legal representation immediately. This will enable us to support you right from the start of either PLO or Court proceedings, to understand the process, provide you with legal advice on what options will be available to you throughout and to explain and discuss with you the evidence that the Local Authority has regarding your child/ren. Our legal team will also help you put your case across, either in the PLO meetings and/or will speak on your behalf to the Judge (if Court proceedings are commenced by the Local Authority).
Solicitor | Head of Childcare
Child Care Solicitor
A Student Member of ILEX
Answers to common questions:
How will I pay for Youngs Care Team to represent me?
If you are a Parent, (or a person with parental responsibility) for a child/ren, and the Local Authority makes an application to the court for a Care Order, Supervision Order or Emergency Protection Order, or they send you a letter saying that they are starting the pre-proceedings process (PLO), you will be entitled to Legal Aid completely free of charge. It does not matter whether you have no income or work full time and have savings, you are entitled to free legal representation for your Court proceedings under the Legal Aid Scheme.
Who will represent me?
Our Care team has over 15 years’ of experience within this very specific field of law. Our Head of Department is an accredited member of the Law Society Child Law Panel which means that we are able to represent any party within Care proceedings, either the parent(s), the child(ren) or other family members.
Our specialist team enable us to offer a very hands on and personal touch to help you through one of the most difficult times in your life and we aim to have a detailed knowledge of your case throughout.
What if I am Not a Parent?
Sometimes family members/family friends may also need assistance in Public Child Law cases. It may be that you are suspected of causing an injury to a child or that you have been or are thinking of being assessed to care for a child who has been either temporarily or permanently removed from their parents’ care. Or perhaps you have been told by the Local Authority that they will be asking the court to make a Child Arrangement Order or Special Guardianship Order in your favour.
Therefore, you may also need the benefit of legal advice and assistance and even sometimes legal representation (if Court proceedings have been issued). We may be able, in some cases, be able to assist you in these matters and you may, subject to a stringent Legal Aid Assessment, be entitled to assistance with your legal fees through the Legal Aid Scheme. If you think you need assistance you should contact us to see if we are able to help.
What else can the Care Department do?
There are many other areas of Public Child Law that we cover and in which we represent Parents, Children or other family members where the Local Authority may be involved. Some examples of the types of matters we can assist with are: –
- Contact with Children in Care
- Placement Orders (including applications to revoke)
- Discharge of Care Orders
- Secure Accommodation Orders
- Child Assessment Orders
- Adoption Orders
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