Salford Children's Services Procedures Manual Salford City Council website
Greater Manchester SCB Procedures
Greater Manchester SCB Procedures Greater Manchester SCB Procedures

1.3.5 Legal Planning Meetings

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This Chapter should be read in conjunction with government guidance:

The Practice Direction - A Guide to Case Management in Public Law Cases April 2010 

Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities on Court Orders and Pre-Proceedings (2014)

Protocol and Good Practice Model: Disclosure of Information in Cases of Alleged Child Abuse and Linked Criminal and Care Direction Hearings (October 2013)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in November 2017 to add a new Section on Discharge of a care Order (Section 2, Discharge of Care Order). Section 1, Procedure has also been significantly updated, particularly to note when a case should be presented to a legal planning meeting – and a new Flow Chart is provided (see Appendix 2: Pre-Proceedings Flow Chart). An Initial Statement of Evidence Pro Forma has also been included, (see Appendix 3: Initial Statement of Evidence).


Contents

  1. Procedure
  2. Discharge of Care Order

    Appendix 1: Legal Planning meeting Proforma

    Appendix 2: Pre-Proceedings Flow Chart

    Appendix 3: Initial Statement of Evidence


1. Procedure

  1. In all cases where Care Proceedings are contemplated, a legal planning meeting must be held. If proceedings are not taken at that stage, but become necessary later e.g. because the parents have failed to co-operate following the issue of a Pre Proceedings Letter, then a further Legal Planning Meeting must be held. If the circumstances of a case are exceptionally urgent the legal planning meeting may take the form of a telephone conference between the legal department and the social work team;
  2. The child/ren's social worker, practice manager and a representative of the legal department must attend. The meeting will be chaired by a Service Manager within the Children's Services Directorate. The manager of the Outreach service and a representative from 'Adoption Counts' will also be in attendance. Others such as a worker, who has conducted an assessment, may be invited to attend;
  3. The purpose of the legal planning meeting is:
    1. To establish whether the threshold criteria for taking Care Proceedings are met;
    2. If so whether a pre proceedings letter should be prepared and the parents invited to attend a pre proceedings meeting (see Care and Supervision Proceedings and the Public Law Outline Procedure, Pre-Proceedings Meeting);
    3. If a pre proceedings letter is not appropriate where the meeting considers that it is not safe and appropriate to follow the pre proceedings procedure whether care proceedings are necessary to protect the child/ren;
    4. If the case is so urgent that an Emergency Protection Order should be applied for.
  4. A standard agenda and proforma for recording the meeting is provided in Appendix 1: Legal Planning meeting Proforma;
  5. A flowchart for legal planning meetings is provided in Appendix 2: Pre-Proceedings Flow Chart: This provides for when a case should be presented to legal planning:
    • When escalation from child protection;
    • Prebirths (after 12 weeks);
    • Once S20 status given (within 10 working days);
    • Private Fostering;
    • Supervision Orders (4 months prior to expiry);
    • S37 reports within private law proceedings.
  6. Before the meeting the social worker should:
    1. Complete the legal planning meeting proforma, so far as possible and attach all available documents: chronology; genogram; assessments;
    2. The proforma and relevant documents will be provided to the Service Manager and the legal department 4 working days before the meeting.
  7. At the meeting, legal advice will be given, a plan will be made and a timescale set for the various actions decided upon in the plan to be carried out, and part 2 of the legal planning meeting proforma will be completed as a record of the meeting;
  8. Following the legal planning meeting, the agreed actions will be taken within the timescale agreed. In the event that actions are not taken within agreed timescales the Service Manager shall be notified and provided with the reasons for any delay in taking agreed actions.

    Note: where children are already Section 20 Accommodated there should be no delay in issuing proceedings where this is required, (see Decision to Look After and Care Planning Procedure, Section 20 Accommodation).


2. Discharge of Care Order

  1. If it has been decided at a Looked after Children’s Review Meeting and ratified by an Independent Reviewing Officer that it is no longer necessary for the Local Authority to share the Parental Responsibility of a child or young person it must be recorded within the statutory review minutes. Plans are then to be considered and put in place to discharge the Care Order as soon as it is feasibly possible. This will only be done if it is in the child or young person’s best interest and considered safe to do so;
  2. If the recommendation of a Looked after Children’s Review supports the Care Plan to discharge a Care Order then a legal planning meeting must be convened within 28 working days. Legal planning meetings are held once a month;
  3. The child/ren's social worker, practice manager and a representative of the legal department must attend. The meeting will be chaired by a Service Manager within the Children's Services Directorate. Others such as a worker, who has conducted an assessment, may be invited to attend;
  4. Following LPM allocated to one of the Legal Officers to progress who will provide templates and advice if necessary:
    • Paperwork (that will be needed);
    • Referral Form;
    • LAC minutes (last meeting);
    • Social Worker's Statement;
    • CAFCASS (if you have referred to it in statement).
  5. Where the Local Authority proposes that a special guardianship order should be made in substitution for the care order and has prepared a special guardianship report, it is not expected that Local Authority will duplicate that information in the social work statement filed in support of the application. It will be sufficient, in dealing with a particular issue, to make reference to the page/paragraph number of the SGO report rather than set that evidence out again verbatim.


Appendices

Click here to view Appendix 1: Legal Planning meeting Proforma.

Click here to view Appendix 2: Pre-Proceedings Flowchart.

Click here to view Appendix 3: Initial Statement of Evidence.

End