Call for watchful eye on revamp of care proceedings

The overhaul of the way care cases are handled in the family courts must be monitored carefully because of the speed with which it has been implemented, according to an adoption chief. 

British Association for Adoption and Fostering chief executive David Holmes (pictured) made the comments as the Ministry of Justice published the final version of the Public Law Outline (PLO). The protocol, which comes into effect in April, is intended to tackle delays in resolving cases by ensuring councils are better prepared to bring care applications.

Councils will have to complete a pre-proceedings checklist, including initial and core assessments, a social work chronology and any pre-existing care plans.

Judges will also be expected to set a timetable for cases, ­removing the current 40-week target. To ensure continuity, each case will be allocated to no more than two judges.

Holmes welcomed the principles of the reform, but pointed out that there had been no full-scale pilot of the PLO, which was published for consultation last June and has since been trialled in a number of areas. He added: “It’s been brought in quickly. It’s going to be important to monitor how it’s working in practice.”

Related articles

Social workers’ lowly status in the family courts and the Public Law Outline

Anthony Douglas: How the Public Law Outline will improve care proceedings

More information

Baaf response to revised draft PLO

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Mithran Samuel



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