Q: I have been given a letter from the Local Authority about my children. The letter says that I should ‘take this to a Solicitor’ and that there is an upcoming meeting. As I haven’t had much involvement with my children I cannot really understand why or how a meeting about them would involve me, although the letter does say there are concerns that the children aren’t attending at school. I’m worried because clearly I should be taking this to a solicitor, but I simply can’t afford the cost. Could you please point me in the right direction of someone who might be able to help?
A: Firstly, under NO circumstances should you ignore this letter; or any other correspondence that advises you to see a solicitor.From the information you have provided, it sounds as if the Local Authority have arranged a ‘PLO’ meeting, which is also known as a ‘Pre Proceedings Meeting’. If that is the case, it is a very serious meeting that is held when the Local Authority have concerns about the care provided to your children. The meeting is an opportunity for the Local Authority to outline their concerns and put forward a plan they wish you to follow. If you fail to attend the PLO or you do not engage with the plan forward at the PLO meeting, then the Local Authority may issue court proceedings in respect of your children.
It is extremely important that you immediately contact a firm of solicitors who specialise in child proceedings and provide them with a copy of this letter. You will be entitled to legal aid for representation at a PLO meeting so you do not need to worry about meeting any legal costs.