Care Proceedings Reform
We are committed to reducing unnecessary delay in care proceedings, bringing together all the agencies involved in the care proceedings system with local accountability.
Public Law Outline: 2014 update
From 22 April 2014, the Public Law Outline (PLO) 2014 for care, supervision and other Part 4 proceedings will come into effect. The PLO 2014 updates the pilot PLO that was introduced on 1 July 2013. This follows feedback gathered during the pilot, as well as a targeted consultation undertaken by the Family Procedure Rule Committee during November – December 2013.
The PLO 2014 has been amended so that there is now a window for the Case Management Hearing of ‘not before Day 12 and no later than Day 18’ instead of the fixed ‘by Day 12’. A number of smaller amendments have been made to highlight cases with an international element.
The application form C110A has also been further revised to include applications for emergency protection orders. This will be required for any new applications issued from 22 April. Please note that it will now be possible to apply for Part 4 and EPO proceedings at the same time and on the same form. In addition, the threshold statement and allocation proposal form, which were previously annex documents, have been incorporated into the form.
The PLO 2014, revised C110A, revised PLO flowchart, action research into the PLO pilot and transitional arrangements can be viewed here:
Practice Direction 12A (the PLO 2014)
Revised statutory guidance for local authorities
The Department for Education has issued revised statutory guidance to support local authorities: Court Orders and Pre-Proceedings Guidance (This replaces the guidance previously known as Court Orders Statutory Guidance – Volume 1).
The guidance sets out the steps local authorities need to take before applying for a court order. It also includes information on pre-proceedings and adoption, to support changes in practice to align with the PLO. This revised guidance came into force in England on 17 April 2014.
Pre-proceedings advice under legal aid in public law children cases There are 2 levels of advice available in pre-proceedings work. An application is not required to the Legal Aid Agency, although the solicitor must ensure that the relevant merits criteria set out on the Regulations are met. The levels of service and the payments made are set out in the Civil Legal Aid (Procedure) Regulations and the Civil Legal Aid (Remuneration) Regulations.
Level 1 – Legal help
Legal help in public law cases will cover the initial meeting with the client and follow-up advice and assistance as appropriate including correspondence and liaising with the local authority. Legal help also covers completing any necessary application for legal representation. Advice can be provided to clients both before and after a child protection conference. There will usually be more appropriate support to clients attending child protection conferences than attendance at those conferences where providers may only be able to take a limited note.
Level 2 – Family help lower
Level 2 funding is available for parents or those with parental responsibility who require advice and assistance with a view to avoiding the proceedings, or narrowing and resolving any issues with the Local Authority. This is non means and non merits tested. This form of advice can be provided once the Local Authority has given written notice of potential s31 Care Proceedings.
Further details on the availability of legal advice for pre-proceedings are in the LAA's Costs Assessment Guidance.Costs assessment guidance
Parent’s Pack – information for parents about care proceedings
This is a booklet for parents who may be about to be taken to court by a local authority because of concerns over the safety and welfare of their child. It gives parents information in a clear and straightforward manner about what is involved in court proceedings and the various stages in the process. It is intended that parents should receive this information from local authorities at the stage at which a Letter before Proceedings is issued.
Parent's pack (PDF 1.36mb 28 pages)
Pecyn Gwybodaeth i Rieni (PDF 1.60mb 28 pages)
Your child could be taken into care – here’s what you need to know. A leaflet version is also available:
Your child could be taken into care – here’s what you need to know
Parents leaflet (PDF 0.4mb)
Parents leaflet, Welsh (PDF 0.4mb)
Local Family Justice Boards
44 LFJBs were set up across England and Wales in 2012 following the Government response to the Family Justice Review. The LFJBs oversee the operation of local family justice as part of a system-wide approach to improving performance and reducing delay in care proceedings.
They bring together local decision makers from agencies across the care proceedings system to develop local solutions to local problems. The overarching aim of LFJBs is to achieve significant improvement in the performance of the family justice system in their local area.
Their specific objectives are to:
- analyse and identify causes of delay within individual local agencies and the system as a whole and put in place local actions to improve performance and the delivery of family justice;
- report to the Performance Improvement Sub-Group of the Family Justice Board, through action plans, examples of best practice and also to report issues where broader strategic challenges outside the scope of local action may be emerging;
- organise inter-disciplinary training with at least one training event a year;
- engage with other LFJBs to identify opportunities to share best practice and resources;
- identify differences in performance locally and regionally to improve consistency of best practice across the agencies; and
- provide a direct link with other relevant local groups.