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Care proceedings & child protection

Child protection investigations

A local authority has a duty to investigate any concerns raised about the safety or welfare of a child, including an unborn baby.   If the child is thought to be in immediate danger, then they can go to court to secure protection for the child via:

If the matter is not considered to be immediately urgent the local authority will investigate the concerns and produce a report called a Child and Family assessment.

The social worker will need to determine whether:

  • the child requires immediate protection;
  • the child is in need (leading to an assessment under section 17 of the Children Act);
  • there is reasonable cause to suspect that the child is suffering (or likely to suffer) significant harm
  • any support services are required by the child and the family; and
  • any specialist assessments are required to help the local authority to decide what further action to take.

To do this, the social worker will gather evidence from and speak with the child, the family, and any relevant professionals.

This assessment could then lead to the family being involved in Child in Need meetings, Child Protection meetings, what is called the PLO process (which is a process used when it is thought court proceedings may be needed but as a last attempt to avoid them) or court proceedings themselves.

Having your family investigated in this way can be very daunting, and it is advisable to seek advice from a specialist solicitor as soon as possible.

Who we can help

We support parents, carers, grandparents, and other relatives involved in care proceedings and/or the PLO process.

We also act separately for children who are old enough to instruct a solicitor themselves. Generally, this applies to teenagers only, but sometimes children as young as 10 can be found to be of sufficient understanding.

How we can help

If your social worker has expressed concerns about your child and has mentioned any sort of assessment or investigation, then we would advise you to seek legal advice as soon as possible.

Our experienced solicitors will explain your rights guide you through the process and support you at any PLO meetings, exploring all the options available.

Funding for legal advice or representation

Legal Aid funding may be available for parents and those with parental responsibility if their local authority is launching a child protection investigation.

Contact our family law team

Contact us right away if you are affected by any of these issues, for compassionate, specialist advice.



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