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Child Protection

It is the role of Social Services to ensure that all children are safe and well looked after. The starting point is that a child should be looked after by his or her parents, if possible. In certain circumstances there is a duty upon the local authority to provide services and support to help a parent look after a child so that they can remain living together as a family.

If a social worker is concerned about how a child is looked after they can take different steps depending upon the extent of the concerns that they have about a child.

Case Conference

If a social worker is concerned that a child is being, or is at risk of being, neglected or abused in some way, but they think it is possible to work with the family to improve things, they can arrange a case conference. A case conference is a meeting that brings together family members with the professionals that are involved in supporting the family. The purpose of the meeting is to see if it is agreed (by the professionals) that there is concern about the child and if so, to formulate a plan to work with the family towards making changes.

A decision can be made to place the name of the chid upon the Child Protection Register. Review meetings will be held and if improvements are made then the conference can decide to remove the child’s name from the Register. If improvements are not made then the child’s name will continue to remain on the Register or a decision may be made to take a different course of action.

Public Law Outline (PLO) meeting

If a social worker is concerned about the care of a child or the future care of an unborn baby to the point that they think that if changes are not made then they will need to start court proceedings, also known as care proceedings, they may decide to arrange a Public Law Outline meeting - often called A PLO meeting. Each parent should be given a letter inviting them to this meeting. The letter will set out clearly why the social worker is concerned about a child and what action they think a parent or parent’s needs to take to address these concerns. Social services only arrange these meetings when they are concerned about the children to the point where they are seriously thinking about whether a child can remain living in the family or whether they should be placed with other family members or into foster care.

It is very important that you ask a solicitor to attend this meeting with you. Legal aid is available for this. If you do not attend the meeting or if you do not make the changes that the social worker has asked you to do, then it is likely that court proceedings will start.

We have a lot of experience in attending these meetings. We can talk to you about the concerns that the social worker has and can advise you if these concerns appear to be reasonable or not. It is really important that you understand what is happening in this process, so that you can do all that you can to avoid court proceedings starting.

If a PLO meeting is being arranged, then this is an indicator that you may be experiencing some difficulties and may require additional assistance. We have a lot of contact with supporting agencies and we will routinely consider if there is any support in the community that could be available to you and we will assist with putting you in touch with such organisations.


I think Helen has done amazingly and fought really hard for my case. It is only due to her that I have my son back. I like that Helen is direct and to the point and if I’m not doing something that I should be, then Helen will tell me straight up. Helen is passionate about what she does and I am really grateful to her.

Joannie, Luton

  • Have social services asked you to attend a meeting?

  • Is your child about to be taken into care?

  • Call us on our emergency helpline - 0845 450 5616