BCP Council Children’s Services have developed a PLO and Court Team in order to address the expectations in the best practice Guidance published by the Family Division Public Law Working Group in March 2021.
There has been lots of exciting work being undertaken, with more to come to develop the new PLO and Court Service for BCP Council to include the Social Work team - PLO and Court, the Family Resource Centre (Contact Service, Parenting Assessment Service) and the work being undertaken in the Parental Substance Misuse Court (PSMC). As the service embeds, we will have constructive discussions with our partner agencies and colleagues about how we can work together to address the needs and risks of children and families jointly in this arena supporting children and families with issues such as domestic abuse, adult mental health and substance misuse.
Cases will be presented at Legal Gateway panel to consider if the threshold for pre-proceedings is met and to devise a plan of support to the family. The family are then invited to a formal meeting (PLO meeting) with their legal representation to hear the concerns and collaborate on an action plan to reduce risks to the child/ren.
Issuing care proceedings in the family courts should be seen as the option of last resort and the purpose of the PLO (Public Law Outline) pre-care proceedings process represents a genuine opportunity to work closely with families by offering help and support to address their recognises needs in a bid to negate the need to issue care proceedings. The focus of the best practice guidance is ensuring that the PLO is followed in all cases with a view to either divert cases that might otherwise have come to court or having these cases that do come to court fully assessed and prepared.
There is significant emphasis in securing a child’s permanency and exploration of the support the wider family can offer in reducing risk and increasing safety. We work together to ensure the right decisions are made for children without drift and delay.