Legal Threshold Meetings
What you need to know
If work with the family cannot keep a child safe, a legal threshold meeting should be called. This is sometimes called a legal strategy meeting or a legal gateway meeting. The purpose of this meeting is to obtain advice as to whether the 'threshold criteria' for a care order/care requirement has been met.
The legal threshold meeting is usually attended by the child's social worker, manager and a legal adviser.
The meeting also considers whether there is sufficient evidence for the proposed plan (whether that is pre-proceedings or care proceedings), such as a satisfactorily completed assessment, a chronology and other reports. This should include:
- current information from the foster carer (if the child is looked after)
- whether any specialist assessments are needed, including any related to parents' capacity / capability.
Notes should be kept of the process whereby the decision was reached.
What happens after a meeting
If the Committee reaches a decision that the threshold has been met, there are three options:
- to continue with a support programme, revised to take account of concerns identified
- to begin a formal pre-proceedings process
- to apply to CYCT/court immediately, depending on the urgency of the situation.
The outcome of the meeting may be that matters are so urgent that an application will be made immediately to court, in which case, notification will be sent to the parents. In an emergency, the Committee may seek an Emergency Child Protection Order.
In other circumstances, an application is likely to be made because the Children's Services believes that the threshold for obtaining a care requirement/care order has been met, but the Committee decides one final attempt should be made to work with the family. In this situation, the Committee will send the parent(s) a letter before proceedings. If a decision is made at a legal threshold meeting to send a letter before proceedings, the formal pre-proceedings stage begins.
- Child protection
- Youth Offending
- Children with Disabilities