Care Proceedings Solicitor | Children's Law | Howells LLP
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Care Proceedings Solicitor

If social services have contacted you because they have concerns about your child, it’s understandable that you might feel upset and want to know what your rights are. Our specialist Children Law team are here to help and will guide you through the next steps of the care proceedings process.


Our team can help you before, during and after care proceedings. If you need advice about social services’ involvement with your children, call our specialist care team on our dedicated number 0114 249 6693 and book a [free] first meeting to discuss your situation.

Free First Meeting for New Clients

Our Children Law solicitors can help with talking to social services, attending planning meetings, and representing you at Court. Speak to one of our Children Law specialists [for free] today. Contact us today on 0114 249 6693 to book your [free] initial meeting.


A Care Proceedings Solicitor You Can Trust

Our Children Law specialists are experts in dealing with complex and sensitive childcare proceedings. We are Children Panel accredited Solicitors and we offer representation to pregnant mothers, parents, grandparents, and children. We represent thousands of people each year across the UK.

At a distressing and difficult time, we are here to give advice and support without judgement. We can provide assistance and advice to parents, family members, children, and guardians across all aspects of childcare proceedings, including:

  • Offering [free] advice at the first instance social services contact you
  • Explaining the contents of any letters or communication from social services to you
  • Explaining your rights as a parent or guardian during any stage of the care proceeding process
  • Contact social services on your behalf
  • Review a ‘letter before proceedings’ with you and offer advice
  • Give advice before a ‘pre proceedings’ meeting
  • Represent you during a ‘pre proceedings’ meeting
  • Give advice and explain your rights following a ‘pre proceedings’ meeting
  • Give you advice and represent you at court

The intervention and investigations can be hugely traumatic for everyone, and given their complexity and consequences, it’s essential that you seek expert help from a care proceedings solicitor at the earliest opportunity. Contact us today on  0114 249 6693  to book your [free] initial meeting.

Social Service Involvement

We can advise and support you from when a social worker first gets in touch with you, and, wherever possible, we will attend meetings with you and represent you in court.  We will also help you apply for legal aid if you are eligible. Contact us today on  0114 249 6693  to discuss if legal aid is an option for you.

We have experience representing parents and other family members in all sorts of situations which lead to care proceedings. These include cases where the local authority is concerned children are being neglected and where family members are accused of injuring or abusing children.

What Happens in Care Proceedings?

Care proceedings are court proceedings issued by the children’s/social services department of the local authority. To begin proceedings, the local authority will have made an application to take action to protect a child from harm. This is usually an application for a Care Order or Supervision Order; these are known as care proceedings.

You can read our comprehensive guide on care proceedings here.


To start the pre-proceedings process children’s services must send a child’s parents, or anyone with parental responsibility, a ‘letter before proceedings’ to start the process.

Letter Before Proceedings

A ‘letter before proceedings’ will include:

  • The concerns the children’s services have
  • Changes they would like the parent or carer to make
  • Information about any assessments or courses children’s services think parents should be involved in
  • Any support children’s services can put in place
  • Invite the parent or carer to a pre-proceeding meeting with the parent’s solicitor to discuss those concerns

At this stage you should seek representation from a Solicitor. A Solicitor will review the letter with you and offer advice. The Solicitor’s fees are covered by legal aid for this service. Contact us today on  0114 249 6693 to discuss if legal aid is an option for you.

Pre-Proceedings or PLO (Public Law Outline) meeting

A pre-proceedings meeting is an important part of the care proceedings. This meeting is a final attempt in preventing the matter going to court. The meeting will be attended by the parents, children’s services, and your solicitor. It will be made clear to the parents what is expected of them in order to reduce the concerns held by children’s services. The purpose of the pre-proceedings meeting is to agree a plan.

You can read our comprehensive guide on care proceedings here.

Going to Court

At the start of the court proceedings, social services may ask the family court to make a temporary court order if they are worried about your children. If the court agrees, then children’s services can take your child into temporary foster care or place your child with someone in your family.

Over the following months after the first hearing, social workers and other professionals will assess you and your children. They will then make recommendations to the court about what they think is the best outcome for your child in the long term and the court will hear final recommendations about what final orders, if any, should be made, where the children should live and what contact they should have with members of their family.

Legal Aid Funding for Care Proceedings

Legal aid is the use of public funds to help to pay for legal advice. There are three considerations for legal aid entitlement:

    1. Scope – the type of case you are involved with must be on the list of cases that the government says may be funded by legal aid. Parents who are subject to a PLO process or care proceedings are eligible for legal aid.
    2. Means – An assessment of your financial circumstances may be required to check that you are eligible for legal aid but all parents are automatically eligible for legal aid in the PLO process and care proceedings no matter what their financial circumstances.
    3. Merits – the legal aid agency check that you have a case to argue, that you have a reasonable likelihood of success, and a reasonable person would use their own funds to pay for the case. This does not apply to the PLO process and care proceedings as all parents are eligible for legal aid for those cases.


    Whether your children case is eligible for legal aid depends on the type of case. This can include:

  • Care proceedings representation
  • A parent in proceedings where the court is being asked to make a Special Guardianship Order for their child
  • A parent asking to permission of the court to oppose an adoption order
  • Contact with a child in care
  • Discharge/variation of a care/supervision order

Our Children Law Solicitors can help with talking to social services, attending planning meetings, and representing you at Court. Speak to one of our Children Law specialists for [free] today. Contact us today on  0114 249 6693 to book your free meeting.

Care Proceedings FAQs

Social services have contacted me – What should I do?

Anyone – from a friend or family member to a teacher or doctor, even a neighbour or passer-by – can raise concerns about the well being of a child. When Children’s Services – a department of Social Services – is called in the UK, they have a legal obligation to investigate these concerns. Initially you be contacted by social services to arrange for an assessment to take place.

In the first instance social service contact you, you should contact Howells Solicitors on  0114 249 6693 where you can receive [free] confidential advice on what you should do next.

I’ve received a social service ‘letter before proceedings’ – what should I do?

You should contact Howells Solicitors on  0114 249 6693 where you can receive free confidential advice on what you should do next. We can even speak with social services on your behalf and represent you at any pre proceedings meetings and court proceedings. We will always fully explain your next stages, and help you understand your legal rights.

How Long Do Care Proceedings Take?

It can take up to 26 weeks (6 months) for a court to decide what will happen to your child, however, if the case is more complex, it may take longer.

Social Services are Involved with My Family, Will I Get Legal Aid?

Yes. Legal aid is available, before and during court proceedings. Contact us today on  0114 249 6693 to discuss if legal aid is an option for you.

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How can we help? Contact us today

Contact us on 0114 2496666 and one of our advisors will be in touch to discuss your situation. We will take some initial information and if we can help, we will book you in for a consultation with a legal professional.

Contact our team

Legal Aid Funding

Legal aid is available in a wide variety of circumstances for friends and family members when social care are involved with children and we will be happy to assess you and advise you as to your eligibility of legal aid. Speak to one of our Children Law specialists for [free] today. Contact us on  0114 249 6693

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The Howells Solicitors law team are compassionate, down-to-earth and professional, offering you the best expert advice. Get in touch with solicitors in Sheffield, Rotherham, and Barnsley to see how we can help. Fill in the form or give us a call at:

The Care Proceedings Team

The care proceedings tam are part of the Children Law department at Howells.

The Howells team is one of the best in the country. It has been consistently highly ranked for family work in the north, and is overseen by the hugely respected and much admired Alyson Siddall. Alyson has developed a group of many talents but with shared values. Tough and resolute in their legal representation, sensitive and compassionate in their client relationships, the team understand that they’re not dealing with ‘cases’ but with people, not bound up in legal process but in real lives.

The team also consists of senior solicitors Sarah Peart and Charlotte Curbishley who deal with Children Law matters, specialising in advising and representing parents, children, and family members at public law proceedings. Both Sarah and Charlotte are on Law Society Children Panel.

Chambers UK
Howells was highly ranked as a law firm for Family Law by Chambers UK 2018. The prestigious guide said Howells is “Increasingly active in dealing with high net worth cases and child abduction cases over the past year. Bolstered by a designated mediation and collaborative law group.”

Legal 500
The Legal 500 2018 ranks the Family department highly and states that “Howells handles the full spectrum of matrimonial work and children law matters. Alyson Siddall is ‘hugely experienced but always still keen to learn’, and heads the department which benefits from individuals based across Sheffield, Rotherham and Barnsley. Siddall is regularly instructed in complex financial arrangements and has additional expertise in private children matters and collaborative law.”

Sarah Peart

0114 249 6755
Charlotte Curbishley

01709 364 000
Aamnah Saleem

0114 249 6716
Christopher Patrick

01709 364 000
Deborah Thompson

01226 805 190
Emily Shaw

01226 805 190
Ryan Marsh

01709 364000
Stephanie Cundy

Children Law

01709 364000
Sophie Jensen

Family Law

01226 668 803
Laura Hill

Family Law

0114 249 6638