Social services involved with your family?

What is a Pre-Proceedings Meeting?

Following a referral being made to the local authorities social services department, perhaps following Police involvement with your family, an initial assessment is undertaken within 10 days of receiving the referral. A strategy meeting will then be held to decide whether any further investigation is necessary and if it is then a full assessment must be completed within 35 working days. In addition, within 15 days of deciding that a full assessment is required the local authority will set up a Child Protection Conference. The information gathered at the Child Protection Conference will be used to make a decision as to the whether or not your children will be subject to a Child in Need Plan or a Child Protection Plan or no plan at all.

The Core Group is the main group of people who are going to be involved in making sure the Child In Need Plan or Child Protection Plan is adhered to. It will be comprised of you as parents, the allocated social worker, and any other family members or professionals who are key to the Plan working and succeeding.

If the local authority feels that the Plan isn’t working and that there is still a continuing risk of harm or that you as parents are failing to cooperate with them, they could consider issuing court proceedings. Prior to this the local authority will have a Pre- Proceedings Meeting.

A Pre-Proceedings Meeting is a meeting at which the local authority are required to inform you as parents about any concerns that they have about your children and that they are seriously thinking about issuing care proceedings.

The local authority must inform you about the Pre-Proceedings Meeting via a letter inviting you and any other person with parental responsibility for the children to attend this meeting. It is very important that you attend the meeting with a solicitor such as a specialist family solicitor at Heaney Watson who represent clients in Manchester, Liverpool and everywhere in between.

At the meeting, you and the local authority will discuss the changes that you need to make in respect of your parenting and to address the local authority's concerns and how the local authority and other agencies can support you in doing this. This could include the local authority undertaking a parenting assessment of you as parents, and/or for you to work with support services where necessary.

If it can be agreed by both parents and the local authority that some changes can be made these will be written into a Pre-Proceedings Agreement that both you as parents and the local authority will follow.

If there is no agreement, then the local authority will have another legal meeting at which it is most likely that they will decide to issue court proceedings.

For more information and advice contact a specialist family advisor at Heaney Watson at [email protected] or by visiting http://www.heaneywatson.com/site/services/care-proceedings-solicitors/ .