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Public Law Outline. What this Means to my Practice Reaching early resolutions and better outcomes for children, young people and their families. Learning Outcomes. Know the changes that need to take place in managing court procedures Clear understanding of your role in the Public Law Outline

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public law outline

Public Law Outline

What this Means to my Practice

Reaching early resolutions and better outcomes for children, young people and their families.

learning outcomes
Learning Outcomes
  • Know the changes that need to take place in managing court procedures
  • Clear understanding of your role in the Public Law Outline
  • Clear understanding of the roles of others and the need to work in partnership
  • Know how to support social workers in using the PLO in their work
  • Know where to find National & Local resources
  • Overview
  • Guidance
  • Public Law Outline
  • Practice Changes – exercise
  • Comfort break – 20 mins
  • Questions
  • Supporting social workers in their work
  • Close


An Overview

Aim – To summarise the background to the reforms and outline the main changes to become effective in April 2008

  • Over 14,000 applications (by child) for care or supervision orders each year
  • More than 60% of care proceedings involve children under six years of age
  • Cases frequently take longer than 12 months to reach a conclusion…and the longer it takes, the longer a child has to wait for a decision as to their future
  • These children, and their families, are some of the most vulnerable and socially excluded people in our society
why the change
Why the Change?

Care Review (May 2006) found unnecessary delay

caused by complex set of drivers:

  • poorly prepared court applications;
  • ineffective case management;
  • scarcity of judicial resources;
  • variation in quality of representation;
  • expert evidence that takes a long time to commission and/or is requested late and/or does not provide suitable guidance for the court;
  • late allocation of the children’s guardian;
  • alternative carers emerging late in proceedings;
  • variations in regional practice.
care review recommendations
Care Review Recommendations

The Review of the Child Care Proceedings System in England and

Wales (May 2006) highlighted five key areas for attention:

  • Helping families - ensuring families and children understand proceedings
  • Better informed resolution - ensuring applications are made after all safe and appropriate alternatives have been explored
  • Preparation for proceedings - improving the quality and consistency of applications
  • During proceedings - improved case management
  • Inter-agency working - ensuring closer professional relationships
key principles for engaging with families
Key Principles for Engaging with Families
  • Good evidence based assessments
  • No surprises
  • Parents to be fully involved
  • Plans to be written in plain English
  • Effective communication with children
  • Identification of the cause of the worry
  • Clarification on all expectations and consequences
  • Identification of significant adults in the a child's family and their role
  • Quality initial and core assessments
children in need meeting
Children in Need Meeting
  • Produce a plan which everyone agrees with
  • Make clear the outcomes that need to be achieved and how they will be measured
  • Agree timescales for outcomes to be achieved
  • Make clear everyone’s contribution to the plan to achieve the outcome
looked after children
Looked After Children
  • Health Assessments
  • Assessment of Family members and/ others who can care for the child/yp
  • Need to make clear decisions in the best interests of the child
  • Need to ensure that as Corporate parents we are all agreeing to the plans before we get to Court
  • Need to be notified when agreement made to apply to court
  • Provide information earlier
  • Work actively with children
  • Seek child’s views
  • Use analysis
  • Less duplication of information in their reports – refer to evidence submitted
co operation
  • ‘All parties and representatives should co-operate wherever reasonably practicable to help towards securing the welfare of the child as paramount consideration’
  • The public law outline p17
key reforms
Key Reforms
  • Volume 1 (Court Orders) Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations
    • revised statutory guidance for local authorities, issued by the Department for Children, Schools and Families and Welsh Assembly Government
    • issued under the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970
  • Public Law Outline
    • replacing the current Protocol for Judicial Case Management
    • setting out how cases will be managed through the courts
statutory guidance
Statutory Guidance

Key changes:

  • Incorporates Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and Their Families - ensuring core assessments are completed
  • access for parents and those with PR to pre-proceedings legal advice
  • front-loaded preparation: emphasis on pre-proceedings work by local authorities
public law outline plo
Public Law Outline (PLO)

Key changes:

  • Four stages, rather than six
  • Advocates’ meetings
  • Timetables focussed around the needs of the child
  • Cafcass analysis and recommendations

Aim – To cover the revisions to the Statutory Guidance and the introduction of the Pre-proceedings Checklist

pre proceedings activity
Pre- Proceedings Activity
  • Pre –Proceedings Checklist
  • Legal planning meeting
  • Letter before proceedings letter
  • Legal advice for parents
  • Meeting with parents
  • Legal planning meeting
  • Pre-proceedings checklist finalised
  • Application for a care/supervision order
legal planning meeting discussion
Legal Planning Meeting/Discussion
  • Identify the concerns with LA legal team
  • Agree if threshold is met
  • Identify the documentation needed as evidence
  • Consider the action needed to be taken by parents and LA
letter before proceedings
Letter Before Proceedings
  • Written by the LA
  • Gives parents a summary of the concerns
  • Gives information about the LA has done to support
  • Identifies the needs to be addressed
  • Defines the outcome if concerns not addressed
  • Provides encouragement to seek legal advice
  • Invitation to attend a meeting to discuss
meeting with parents
Meeting with Parents
  • Chaired by social worker’s manager
  • Identifies concerns and outcome
  • Agrees action to be taken to safeguard the child , by whom and when to be completed
  • What action the LA will take if no change
  • Written action plan given to parents and others that have attended
if no change
If No Change?
  • Manager liaises with CLU, a further legal planning meeting/discussion
  • Agreement made on action
  • Directions on future assessments
  • LA responsible for making an application to court
summary key changes
Summary - Key Changes
  • Ensuring core assessments fully completed
  • Exploring kinship opportunities as fully as possible
  • Issuing a letter before proceedings as appropriate
  • Pre-proceedings legal advice - helping to clarify the issues for parents
  • Meeting between parents, advocates and local authority
  • Completion of pre-proceedings checklist
stream lined process
Stream lined Process
  • Six stages reduced to four:
    • Issue and First Appointment - to allocate and give initial case management directions
    • Advocates’ meeting and Case Management Conference (CMC) - to identify issues and give full case management directions
    • Advocates’ meeting and Issues Resolution Hearing (IRH) to resolve, narrow and identify any remaining issues
    • Final Hearing - to determine remaining issues
flowchart showing the court process
  • supplementary application form: PLO1 (Annex A)
  • local authority case summary form (Annex B)
  • draft case management order (Annex C)
  • Timetable for the child
  • Cafcass guidance for completion of the analysis and recommendations

Understanding and promoting the child’s immediate and life-long welfare needs, and promoting the child’s active participation, is core to Cafcass analysis, intervention and case management

  • Maximise safety
  • Direct work to understand Needs, Wishes & Feelings
  • Appropriate participation so views reach court as directly as possible
  • Work with family, social & professional networks to ascertain ability to meet the child’s NWF
  • Inform child of outcomes
  • Handover to IRO
  • Make information available for child’s lifetime

Child-centred intervention

  • Appraise LA work in the case
  • Focus on key issues
  • Regular information to the court


Child’s immediate & lifelong welfare

Case management / planning

  • Case planning process focuses on reducing non-purposive delay so timetable meets the child’s needs
  • Narrow the issues / outstanding action / information needed to assist court in case management e.g. experts; level; other parties


court proceedings
Court Proceedings
  • Stage 1 Issue and 1st appointment
  • Stage 2 advocates meetings/discussion and case management conference
  • Stage 3 Advocates meeting and Issues resolution hearing
  • Stage 4 Final hearing
  • There will be a separate Practice Direction on how and when experts will be appointed in court proceedings
  • The appointment of an expert is a matter to be determined by the court
  • An expert’s report should not take the place of core social work - e.g. initial and core assessments, and assessment of family members as carers
day 1
Day 1
  • Application issued by court officer
  • Court case manager nominated
  • Pre-proceedings checklist considered and directions given
  • ?allocation/transfer to County Court
  • Children’s guardian appointed – case analysis and recommendations for 1st appointment
  • Solicitor appointed for child
  • Date set for 1st appointment (before Day 6)
by day 3
By Day 3
  • Children’s Guardian will be allocated
  • LA serves application form and the checklist documents on all parties to the proceedings
1 st appointment
1st Appointment
  • By day 6
  • Confirms timetable for the child
  • Arrangements for contested hearing if need notified to the court
  • Confirmation of allocation/transfer
  • Children’s Guardian requested to prepare care analysis and recommendations for the Case Management Conference
  • Scrutiny of the Care Plan
  • Identify additional parties and representation
  • Give initial case management directions
  • Identify if suitable for ‘early final hearing’
advocates meeting discussion
Advocates Meeting/Discussion
  • 2-7 days before the Case Management Conference
  • Legal advocates
  • Consider case summaries, case analysis, & recommendations
  • Identify and agree proposed experts and draft ?s
  • Notify court if a contested hearing
  • LA to complete the Draft Case Management Order to filed no later that 11 am before the Case management Conference
case management conference
Case Management Conference
  • Held no later than day 45
  • Reviews and confirms child’s timetable
  • Confirms allocation/transfer
  • Scrutinises the care plan
  • Identifies remaining issues/concerns
  • Considers the case management directions in the draft case management Order
  • Scrutinises the expert directions
  • Compliance checked with existing directions
  • Court issues the case management order
  • Issues resolution hearing listed
  • Final hearing
final approved draft case management order
Final Approved Draft Case Management Order
  • Parties/legal reps to submit electronic form of the final draft case management order by the end of the day.
advocates meeting 2 7 days before issues resolution hearing
Advocates meeting2-7 days before Issues Resolution Hearing
  • Legal advocate
  • Consider case summaries and case analysis and recommendations
  • Draft case management order
  • Notify court of contested hearing
  • Time for oral evidence to be heard
  • LA file Draft case management order to court no later than 11am on the day before the issues resolution hearing
issues resolution hearing between 16 25 weeks
Issues Resolution Hearingbetween 16 & 25 weeks
  • Identification by the court of the key issues if any to be determined
  • Review an confirm the timetable for the child
  • Scrutinise compliance with directions
  • Consider the draft case management order
  • Scrutinise the care plan
  • Give direction for Hearing documents
  • Court issues case Management order
final hearing
Final Hearing
  • Timed to be in accordance with the individual timetable of the child
  • All parties file and serve updated case management documents and bundles
  • Draft final orders in approved form
  • Judgement/reasons
summary key changes38
Summary – Key Changes
  • Filing checklist documentation and supplementary form PLO1 with the application
  • New, streamlined court process
  • New allocation record and timetable for the child
  • Ensuring advocates’ meetings take place
  • Completion of draft case management order
  • Focus on identifying, narrowing and resolving issues at all stages of the PLO
  • Change in reporting role for children’s guardian - incremental and analytical reporting at all stages
how does my practice need to change
How does my Practice need to Change?
  • What are the differences I will need to make to my practice?
  • What questions do I have?
  • (30 mins)
how can i support social workers
How Can I Support Social Workers
  • What ideas do you have and what key principles do we need to have within CSF to support social workers to use the PLO in their work
  • (20 mins)
what next
What next?
  • Who else needs to be informed about the changes?
  • What extra information do we need to feel confident to implement?
  • What does my team need?
  • Connect - organisaton:csf:L&D:a-z:workshops:public law outline
for professionals
For Professionals
  • New forms & processes
  • New ways of thinking
  • New guidance
  • Development of different skills
  • Assessments to be completed with analysis
  • Need for SMART planning
  • More collaborative working with other professionals
  • Different relationship with CAFCASS
  • Expert assessments to be earlier.
for children their families
For Children & their Families
  • More focus on resolution of issues
  • More honest and open
  • Timetable for child linked to their needs
  • SMART plans with outcomes
  • Emphasis on working together to reach best outcome for child
  • Child’s views actively listened to by the Guardian and reported to the court