Issued a pre proceedings letter from Social Services – What happens now?
If you have received a letter from Children's Services
(commonly known as social services) saying they have concerns for your child
, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.
What is a 'Letter before Proceedings'?
A letter before proceedings is a letter that Children's Services will send to you if they have further concerns about your child and how they are being taken care of
. You will usually receive a letter like this if your local authority (LA) has already drawn up a plan for your child to be kept safe
, but they still have concerns over how this plan is being implemented by you, the parent.
What Does this Letter Mean?
This letter is a final notice from your LA to say that if you don't cooperate with them
and attend a meeting to discuss the care of your child, they could:
- Take your child into care and
- Take you to court
The letter will also explain why your LA still has concerns
about your child even though a plan has been put in place.
How Can the LA Do This?
Your local authority has a legal obligation to safeguard and take care of the welfare of children. If they believe any harm, neglect or hurt has come to any children under its authority they have to take action. It is not a personal grievance
that the local authority has against you, they are simply following the law.
Your child's social worker will be able to explain more to you regarding why the LA has a concern.
What Can I Do, I Don't Agree With the Letter?
It is important that as soon as you receive this letter, you contact a solicitor
. The law surrounding children is quite complex, you will need a thorough understanding of it with the help of a legal professional.
The meeting that the LA arranged between you and themselves is your opportunity to disagree
with what is in the letter.
If there are things that you don't understand in the letter, seeing a solicitor is the best way of getting a clear view of the situation
. If you believe you need the legal support of your solicitor, you can ask them to go to the meeting that the LA has arranged. If the LA starts court proceedings, parents are eligible for legal aid
to secure legal support.
Top Tips to Take Home
- Seek professional legal advice as soon as you get your letter from the LA
- At all costs, try to attend the meeting set up by your LA – if you can't make it, re-arrange for a time that is good for you as soon as possible
- A good solicitor will be able to explain any terms you don't understand – they can also come with you to the meeting