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1.4.4 Legal Gateway Planning Meetings Procedure

Contents

  1. Letters Before Proceedings
  2. Legal Planning Meetings


1. Letters Before Proceedings

  1. In the event that the Legal Gateway Meeting recommends that a “letter before proceedings” (See model letter for guidance and reference) is issued to the parent/s (or others with Parental Responsibility), then the manager will draft this letter in conjunction with the social worker for the case. The manager and social worker will pay particular attention to summarising the Local Authority’s concerns and actions taken/support provided so far, making specific reference in particular to the details of past and present child protection plans;
  2. This letter will invite the parents to seek urgent legal advice and to attend, with their legal representatives, a Legal Planning Meeting with Children’s Social Care;
  3. Letters sent to parents will include an up to date list of suitable Children’s Panel solicitors within the York area;
  4. A copy of this letter will be forwarded to the Local Authority’s legal representative along with copies of the most recent core or single assessment and child protection minutes and plan (if not already in the possession of legal services);
  5. In circumstances where there are multiple siblings and multiple parents, resident and non resident, and/or others with Parental Responsibility, then consideration will need to be given as to who letters should be sent to and also to the specific wording of each letter. It may be appropriate to seek advice in determining these issues from the Local Authority’s legal adviser, and/or the child/ren’s Independent Reviewing Officer/s.


2. Legal Planning Meetings

  1. The Purpose of the meeting is to discuss the concerns of the Local Authority, and to consider proposals to address and resolve these in a final attempt to avoid the need for the Local Authority to resort to issuing Care Proceedings;
  2. The meeting may do any of the following:
    • Restate the terms of the Child Protection Plan, or recommend amendments to it, as is deemed appropriate to those in attendance;
    • Recommend expert assessments be conducted to further inform the Child Protection Plan;
    • Endorse a Family Plan arising from a Family Group Conference as part of an amended Child Protection Plan or recommend that the wider family participate in a Family Group Conference (if not already done so) as part of an amended Child Protection Plan.
  3. In preparation for the meeting the social worker and manager will take confidential legal advice from the Local Authority legal advisor;
  4. If the child/ren’s parents require time to consult with their legal advisors in response to information shared or proposed changes to the Child Protection Plan, then a short recess and a private space will be offered to facilitate this;
  5. Likewise in the event that the social worker or manager require to consult further with the Local Authority legal advisor during the meeting in response to new information arising in the meeting, then a short recess will be allowed in order to facilitate this;
  6. The meeting will make clear to the parents the likely consequences of failure to adhere to the Child Protection Plan;
  7. Any changes to the Child Protection Plan must be endorsed by the Child Protection Core Group (unless already present at the meeting). Any significant changes to the Child Protection Plan must be reported to the child/ren’s Independent Reviewing Officer/s;
  8. If the Child Protection Plan has been amended in any way then this amended plan will be provided to the parent/s in writing;
  9. The meeting should be chaired by the relevant service manager for the case;
  10. Those present at the meeting as a minimum must include, the child’s social worker and manager, the Local Authority legal representative, the child’s parent/s and legal representatives. It may also be appropriate to invite, or admit into the meeting, other significant family members, other members of the Child Protection Core Group, and any others who may have a significant contribution to make;
  11. As in point 5 above, it will also be similarly important for the manager and social worker to consider the specific dynamics and management of any meeting/s, particularly where there are potential criminal (including bail conditions, terms of injunctions or restraining orders etc), issues of confidentiality, domestic abuse, and staff and client safety issues at stake;
  12. The chair of the meeting will be responsible for ensuring that a written record is made of the meeting. The minutes of the meeting will be checked for accuracy by the chair of the meeting and then distributed to all parties, and to the relevant service manager, and the child/ren’s Independent Reviewing officer/s;
  13. A date to review progress at a further Legal Planning Meeting may be set at an appropriate interval.

End