Any arrangements contemplated in advance of the hearings will be guided by the welfare principle (Sendall, 238). The welfare principle is established by Section 1 of the Children Act 1989 and imposes a duty on local authorities and the courts to place the welfare of the child first and foremost in any proceedings involving a child’s “upbringing” or involving child maintenance of property matters (Children Act 1989, Section 1(1)).
The pre-proceedings within the framework of the public law outline (PLO) was introduced by the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Volume 1. The Guidance establishes the steps to be taken when applying for either a care or supervision order. The pre-proceedings is essentially a “checklist” (Laming, 79). Thus, social workers must be able to provide the evidence upon which their decision for applying for a care or supervision order is based. The court will want to be informed of the work that has been conducted with the family. The evidence presented should also demonstrate that the parents have an understanding of the issues, the aims of intervention and the action taken and should also be informed of what the actions are up for review (Laming, 79). In other words, any arrangements made at this point must be clear and supported by logical evidence and must be demonstratively for the child’s welfare.
In general, the PLO as described by the Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations Vol. 1 is enabled by Section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970. By virtue of Section 7 of the 1970 Act, social workers and all local authorities are required to perform their social work duties with guidance from the Secretary of State for Education. Thus in issuing the Guidance, it is intended that case management is monitored so that each stage of the proceedings all issues are identified and progress made is officially recorded (Spray and Jowett, 167). The pre-proceedings are aimed at the “earlier identification of the key issues through assessment” (Spray and Jowett, 167).