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6.2.3 Children and Young People in Care Reviews

RELATED CHAPTER

Appointment and Role of the Independent Reviewing Officers Procedure

RELATED INFORMATION

Children in Care Process Map

Part 10 of the Manual, Information for Service Users

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in June 2017 to note The Law Society guidance ‘Attendance of solicitors at local authority Children Act Meetings’ and their Code of Conduct where the child or family who attend reviews are supported by a legal representative. (See Section 7, Supporters and Interpreters)


Contents

  1. The Purpose of Children and Young People in Care Reviews
  2. Frequency of Children and Young People in Care Reviews
  3. Chairing of Reviews
  4. Convening Children and Young People in Care Reviews
  5. Invitations and the Child's Participation
  6. The Role of the Social Worker
  7. Supporters and Interpreters
  8. Independent Reviewing Officer's Responsibilities
  9. The Role of the Children and Young People in Care Review in Achieving Permanence for the Child 
  10. Children and Young People in Care Reviews Concerning Children in Long Term Foster Placements
  11. Children and Young People in Care Reviews on Children who are the Subject of Child Protection Plans
  12. Recording of Children and Young People in Care Reviews
  13. Review Decisions
  14. Monitoring of Review Decisions
  15. Tracked Recommendations
  16. Dispute Resolution


1. The Purpose of Children and Young People in Care Reviews

A Children and Young People in Care Review must take place before any significant change is made to the child's Care Plan, unless that is not reasonably practicable, including a decision to cease looking after a child.

Children and Young People in Care Reviews should normally be conducted at a meeting although this may not be required in respect of a child who has been in a designated Long-term Foster Placement for over twelve months (see Section 10, Children and Young People in Care Reviews Concerning Children in Long Term Foster Placements).

The purpose of the Children and Young People in Care Review is to:

  • Ensure that appropriate plans are in place to safeguard and promote the overall welfare of the Child in Care in the most effective way and achieve permanence for him or her within a timescale that meets his or her needs;
  • To monitor the progress of the plans and ensure they are being progressed effectively;
  • To make decisions, as necessary, for amendments to those plans to reflect any change in knowledge and/or circumstances;
  • To ensure the needs of Children in Care as a result of a secure remand are met;
  • To ensure that an Eligible Young Person moving into semi-independent accommodation is ready and prepared to move.

It is important that decisions taken at Children and Young People in Care Reviews are implemented and responsibility for actions clearly defined.

The key plans that should be considered at a Children and Young People in Care Review are:

The review should also take account of any other plans or strategies written for the individual child (e.g. behaviour management strategy), ensuring that they are up to date, or that arrangements are in place to update them.


2. Frequency of Children and Young People in Care Reviews

2.1

Normally, Children and Young People in Care Reviews should be convened at the following intervals

  • An initial Children and Young People in Care Review should be conducted within 20 days of the child becoming a Child in Care;
  • The second Children and Young People in Care Review should be conducted within three months of the Initial Review;
  • Subsequent Children and Young People in Care Reviews should be conducted not more than six months after any previous review.
2.2 In relation to children placed with prospective adopters or where there is Authority to Place for Adoption, see the Adoption Reviews Procedure.
2.3

Children and Young People in Care Reviews should be brought forward in the following circumstances:

  • Where the child is, or has been, missing from the placement;
  • Where the placement provider, parents or area authority are concerned that the child is at risk of harm;
  • Where the child so requests, unless the Independent Reviewing Officer considers that the review is not justified;
  • As soon as practicable where a child is moved from one placement to another on an unplanned basis or a significant change in the circumstances of a child suggests his/her placement is no longer appropriate;
  • Where a significant change to the child's Care Plan is required;
  • Where the Independent Reviewing Officer requests that such a review should be convened, for example, upon the request of the child, parent(s) or any other significant person;
  • Where, as a result of a visit, the social worker's assessment is that the child's welfare is not being adequately safeguarded and promoted;
  • Where a review would not otherwise occur before the child ceases to be detained in a YOI or secure training centre, or accommodated on remand;
  • Where the local authority proposes to cease to provide accommodation for a Child in Care.


3. Chairing of Reviews

Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO's) will chair reviews.

The IRO's responsibilities are outlined in Section 8, Independent Reviewing Officer's Responsibilities.

See also Appointment and Role of the Independent Reviewing Officer Procedure.


4. Convening Children and Young People in Care Reviews

4.1 Arranging the first review

As soon as a child becomes a Child in Care, the child's social worker must complete a Change Form and return it to the admin team via acechange@york.gov.uk. This will trigger the appointment of an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) for the child. As soon as an IRO is allocated the admin team will send an Introductory Letter to the child (via their carer if they are aged under 8 years) to confirm the name and contact details of the IRO, and to advise that the IRO will make direct contact to arrange an introductory visit. The IRO will liaise with the social worker and the carers regarding the arrangements for this first visit.

The admin team will liaise with the social worker and IRO to confirm the date, time and venue of the child's first Children and Young People in Care Review.

The social worker should have consulted the child and carers to determine the most appropriate arrangements for the review, ideally the review should take place in the child’s placement.

The IRO should arrange an introductory visit to meet the child in their placement, prior to the first review meeting. During this visit, in accordance with the child’s age and understanding, the IRO will explain their role, they will explain the care planning and review process and they will ensure that the child is aware of the support available to them if they wish to make a complaint or if they wish to access independent advocacy services (please see Advocacy and Independent Visitors Procedure. The IRO will provide the child with written information about these services (The All You Need To Know Leaflet ) and will give them a DVD and explanatory leaflet describing the York’s Pledge to Children and Young People in Care (if of sufficient age and understanding).If the child raises any concerns regarding the Care Plan or review meeting, the IRO will address these with the social worker prior to the review meeting.

4.2 Arranging second and subsequent reviews

At the end of each review the IRO will set the date, time and venue of the next review, taking account of the child’s preference and what is convenient for review participants.

Review dates should not be rearranged unless there are exceptional circumstances and then only if the rearranged meeting can take place within statutory timescales, in which case the new date should be agreed by the social worker with the IRO. The social worker should advise the admin team of any such changes via childcare.reviews@york.gov.uk. The admin team will inform other review participants of the changed arrangements for the meeting in liaison with the social worker.

In the event of a key participant being ill or unable to attend the review, the meeting will usually go ahead but if the IRO feels this could be detrimental to the planning process they may decide that the review be adjourned to a new date when all participants can attend - see Section 8, Independent Reviewing Officer's Responsibilities.

If the allocated IRO cannot attend the meeting and there are concerns that the delay may be detrimental to the child or the meeting may fall outside of statutory timescales, the meeting will be chaired by a substitute IRO. The original IRO will receive a copy of the record of the review, and will retain overall responsibility for scrutiny and integrity of the review and care planning process.

A child should not cease to be a Child in Care until a review has confirmed this decision. In the exceptional circumstances that the child ceases to be a Child in Care before the review date, the child's social worker will complete a change form and forward it to acechange@york.gov.uk. The administrative team will notify the IRO and other prospective attendees that the review is cancelled and why. Generally the IRO will chair a family support meeting following any unplanned exit to review the circumstances and impact of the move and to make recommendations regarding ongoing support and supervision arrangements if these are considered appropriate (this is a best practice standard not a statutory requirement).


5. Invitations and the Child's Participation

At least 20 working days prior to the scheduled review meeting the admin team will send notification to the social worker requesting confirmation, if any changes have been made to the venue, date or time of the meeting, or to the list of those being consulted, invited or included in the distribution of the review record.

Discussion should take place between the social worker and the child (subject to age and understanding) at least 20 working days before the meeting about who the child would like to attend the meeting, where the meeting will be held and confirmation of the issues to be discussed.

The social worker should return the consultation / invitation / distribution list to the admin team (via childcare.reviews@york.gov.uk), copying in the relevant IRO.

The IRO will advise the social worker and administrative team if any changes need to be made to the invitation list, following their consultation with the child.

Invitations and / or consultation papers will be sent by the admin team to all those participating in the review process. These should be sent at least 10 working days before the meeting.

The following people should normally be invited or consulted as part of the review process:

  • The child. There is a presumption that the child will attend the review. A child's disability must not be a bar to the child's attendance;
  • Current carer(s);
  • The parents and those with Parental Responsibility;
  • The supervising social worker, if the child is placed with foster carers;
  • The link worker if the child is in residential care;
  • The most appropriate teacher at the child's school (usually the Designated Teacher for Children in Care);
  • A Personal Adviser, if the child is over the age of 16;
  • An Independent Visitor, if involved;
  • If required, an interpreter or advocate;
  • Any other person with a legitimate interest in the child e.g. health care professional, GP, a representative from the Local Authority in whose area it is proposed that the child will be placed; Such attendance should always be discussed with the child before invitations are made and his/her views obtained);
  • If the child is subject to ongoing proceedings the Children’s Guardian should be included in the review distribution and invited to attend where appropriate.

A balance must be struck in relation to who the child wishes to be present and the need for information and input from the professionals and family members involved. Efforts should be made to keep the number present at the review as small as possible. It may be appropriate for information to be provided in writing or at a separate meeting where the contribution is strictly factual

Children and parents should also be informed that they can arrange to see the IRO separately if they wish or bring a supporter or interpreter to the review.

Where the child does not wish to attend the review, the IRO must at the very least speak to the child before the review - wherever possible in a face to face meeting.

See Section 7, Supporters.

A decision not to invite a child or parent(s) to a review should only be made in exceptional circumstances and in consultation with the IRO, prior to the review. The decision should be recorded, together with reasons, on the review document and child's record. This decision should be kept under regular review.

There may be exceptional circumstances where the child’s social worker, in consultation with the IRO decides that the attendance of the carer at all or part of the review meeting will not be appropriate or practicable. Where this is the case, a written explanation of the reasons should be given and other arrangements made for the carer to contribute to the review process. Details of the reasons why a carer is excluded and a record of their input should be placed on the child’s case record.

Where any other invited person cannot attend, the IRO may agree that a delegate attend instead.

If the parents are excluded from the meeting the IRO should be satisfied that they have been formally consulted, and their views should be included in the review record, unless the IRO is of the view that to do so would cause unnecessary distress to the child.


6. The Role of the Social Worker

The child's social worker must discuss the purpose of the review with the child, parents and carers and consult the child about invitations at least 20 working days before the review meeting.

Social workers should undertake sensitive consultation with the child as part of the preparation for a review to ascertain their views about the current placement, contact, day to day care arrangements and longer term planning. Social workers should undertake consultations in a child centred way tailored to the preferences and circumstances of each individual child. The IRO should facilitate participative planning.

There are some useful tools to assist with child centred planning (see Listen to Me Materials).

In all cases, the child and parent(s) should be encouraged and supported by the social worker to prepare for the review, in writing or other ways if they wish, for example by seeing the IRO separately. The social worker should agree with the IRO how this will be achieved. This requires early consultation between the social worker and the IRO, and should be part of a thorough preparation of all the key issues for the review. The discussion between social worker and IRO should take place at least 15 working days prior to the planned meeting.

The child's social worker must also ensure the child's IRO is kept informed of any significant changes in the child's circumstances and the outcomes of any other meetings held as part of the review process, which consider aspects of the child's Care Plan. In addition, the social worker must notify the IRO if he or she believes that decisions made at a review are no longer appropriate because of a change in circumstances.

Where the child has been or is the subject of Court proceedings, the social worker should ensure the IRO has clear information of the child's legal status and the Court timetable.

Prior to the review, the social worker must ensure the child's records and plans are up to date, for example, that they include records of the placement visits and the last date when the child's sleeping accommodation was seen. Any changes in household membership need to be clearly recorded.

The following documents must be available to the IRO 3 working days before the review meeting:

  • Social worker’s written report;
  • Updated Care Plan or Pathway Plan including health assessment, placement plan and personal education plan (if child of school age);
  • Evidence of consultation;
  • Any other relevant reports by professionals.

The IRO may have a pre meeting with the social worker to review the relevant aspects of the above documentation. The IRO will then summarise these documents during the review and provide information about the discussion with the social worker as appropriate.

After the review, the social worker is responsible for updating the Care Plan within 10 working days, in relation to any changes to the Care Plan agreed at the review.

The social worker should also update the Placement Plan, Health Care Plan and Personal Education Plan as required, and arrange for a Pathway Plan to be completed/updated, if relevant.

The social worker is responsible for ensuring that the parents, others with parental responsibility, carers and child (if of sufficient age and understanding) receive a copy of any updated reports.

See also Section 6, Duty of Social Worker to keep IRO informed in Appointment and Role of Independent Reviewing Officer Procedure.


7. Supporters and Interpreters

The social worker and IRO should consider prior to the review whether either the child or parent(s) would benefit from the presence of a supporter or advocate and if so, the social worker should ensure the necessary arrangements are made. A supporter may be either an advocate on behalf of the child/parent(s) or a person with specialist skills or knowledge.

It may also be necessary for the social worker to make arrangements for an interpreter to attend. Special needs, for example those arising from disability, should always be considered and appropriate assistance arranged where relevant.

Any request by the child or parent(s) for their legal adviser to attend as their supporter should be notified to the IRO prior to the review and arrangements made where appropriate for the attendance at the review of a local authority legal adviser.

Where the ‘supporter’ is a legal representative then the IRO should note The Law Society guidance ‘Attendance of solicitors at local authority Children Act Meetings’and related Code of Conduct (2011).

All solicitors attending these meetings should be aware of the local policies and procedures in respect of Children Act Meetings and of their role in terms of ‘Working Together to safeguard Children’ (2015).


8. Independent Reviewing Officer's Responsibilities

The IRO's role is to chair Children and Young People in Care Reviews and monitor the appropriateness of the Care Plan (on an ongoing basis including whether any safeguarding issues arise), to review its implementation and to establish whether the milestones set out in the plan are being achieved in a timely way.

See also Appointment and Role of the Independent Reviewing Officer Procedure, which sets out in detail to role of the IRO outside the Children and Young People in Care Review.

A key task for all IRO's is to ensure that the review process is child and family centred and that the child's views are heard. They should be satisfied that children's contributions are obtained and effectively presented in the review, including the views of extremely young or non-verbal children. This may require the IRO and / or a specialist advocate observing the child in placement.

The IRO should consult the child about their Care Plan as part of the review process and at any time that there is a Children and Young People in Care Review and arrange to meet the child as appropriate in advance of subsequent Reviews.

The IRO must be satisfied that the wishes and feelings of the child’s parents, any person who is not a parent but who has parental responsibility and the current carer (foster carer or registered person in respect of a children’s home) have been taken into account as part of the review process.

Wherever possible, the child should be encouraged to chair or co-facilitate the meeting and in these circumstances the IRO will assist the child. In all other cases, the IRO will chair the review - see Section 3, Chairing of Reviews.

More than one meeting may be required to ensure the views of relevant people inform the review without the meeting becoming too large. For example it may be appropriate to hold a meeting involving the child prior to a meeting involving the parent to obtain information and ascertain the views of both where the child does not wish to attend a review with his or her parents present.

The IRO is responsible for ensuring that all relevant people, including the child and parents, understand the purpose of the review and have been given appropriate opportunities to contribute and express their views. The IRO should also ensure that relevant consultation has taken place with those professionals who are not in attendance at the meeting.

Where participants' views are not followed, an explanation of the reasons why needs to be provided by the IRO and/or the social worker. Any differences of opinion should be recorded in the record of the meeting. 

If the parent(s) or the child brings a supporter, the IRO will need to explain his or her role, ensuring that the supporter understands that he or she may clarify information but may not cross-examine any contributor.

The agenda for each review will be agreed at the beginning of the meeting and each participant will be invited to contribute their own items to the agenda and have the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.

Where a review considers that adoption or long term fostering is the most appropriate way to meet the child's needs, the recommendation is then submitted to the Adoption Panel for consideration - see Placement for Adoption Procedure.

The IRO may adjourn a review meeting once, for not more than 20 working days, if not satisfied that sufficient information has been provided by the Local Authority to enable proper consideration of any of the factors to be considered.

The IRO should consider the effects on the child of delaying the meeting, and seek the wishes and feelings of the child, carer and parents where appropriate.

No proposal under consideration at the adjourned review should be implemented until the review has been completed.

It will be necessary for the IRO to ensure decisions are clear and establish who is responsible for action and the timescales agreed for completion. The IRO should ensure that the following are considered and accounted for during the review:

  1. The effect of any change in the child's circumstances since the last review, any change made to the Care Plan, whether decisions taken at the last review have been successfully implemented and if not the reasons;
  2. Whether any change should be sought in the child's legal status;
  3. Whether there is a plan for permanence;
  4. Arrangements for contact/whether there is any need for changes to the arrangements in order to promote contact between the child and parents/other Connected Persons;
  5. Whether the placement continues to be the most appropriate available, whether any change to the placement agreement or any other aspect of the arrangements is likely to become necessary before the next review;
  6. Whether the placement safeguards and promotes the child’s welfare, and whether any safeguarding concerns have been raised;
  7. The child's educational needs, progress and development and whether any change is likely to become necessary or desirable before the next review, including consideration of his/her most recent assessment of progress and development; whether the arrangements are meeting the child's educational needs; whether the child has a Personal Education Plan (PEP) and whether its content provides a clear framework for promoting educational achievement;
  8. The child's leisure interests and activities and whether the arrangements are meeting his/her needs;
  9. The child's health report, and whether any change in health care arrangements is likely to be necessary or desirable before the next review; whether the content of the Health Plan provides a clear framework for promoting the child's health; whether the arrangements are meeting the child's health needs;
  10. Whether the child's needs related to identity are being met and whether any change is required having regard to the child's religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural background;
  11. Whether the arrangements for advice, support and assistance continue to be appropriate and understood by the child;
  12. Whether any arrangements need to be made for the time when the child will no longer be a Child in Care;
  13. The child's wishes and feelings and the views of the IRO about any aspect of the case and in particular about any changes made since the last review or proposed to be made to the Care Plan; whether the plan fulfils the duty to safeguard and promote the child's welfare and whether it would be in the child's interests for an Independent Visitor to be appointed;
  14. Where the child is placed with parents before an assessment is completed, the frequency of the social worker's visits;
  15. Whether the delegation of authority to take decisions about a child’s care continues to be appropriate and in the child’s best interests;
  16. Other matters which may arise should also be considered with due regard to the circumstances of the child and the placement.

After the review, the IRO must complete their written record of the review within 5 working days of the meeting, and complete a review monitoring form to confirm if there are any quality assurance issues arising from the review.

If the IRO identifies any issues that they wish to specifically monitor ahead of the next review meeting they will identify this as a Tracked Recommendation (see Section 15, Tracked Recommendation).

Where there is evidence of poor practice, the IRO will consider what action is needed to bring this to the attention of the relevant and appropriate managers - see Section 14, Monitoring of Review Decisions.

One of the key functions of the IRO is to resolve problems arising out of the care planning process. It is expected that IRO's establish positive working relationships with the social workers of the children for whom they are responsible. Where problems are identified in relation to a child’s case, the IRO will, in the first instance, seek to resolve the issue informally with the social worker or the social worker’s managers (see Section 16, Dispute Resolution).


9. The Role of the Children and Young People in Care Review in Achieving Permanence for the Child

The Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) must ensure that the child's Care Plan includes a Permanence Plan by the second review, with measurable milestones and a Contingency Plan should the preferred plans not materialise.

Permanence is generally achieved by either:

  • Return Home;                                 
  • Placement with Relatives or Friends;                     
  • Adoption;                                          
  • Long-term Fostering;                               
  • Special Guardianship Order;                        
  • Child Arrangements Order.

The planning process, informed by multi-agency contributions, will identify which option is most likely to meet the needs of the individual child and take account of his/her wishes and feelings. The child’s care plan should set out details of this plan and the arrangements for implementing it.

It is sometimes too early to confirm one if these plans by the second review, in which case a plan for concurrent or twin track planning should be confirmed.

All subsequent Reviews should review the progress and validity of the Permanence Plan. If the review determines that the chosen avenue to permanence is not viable, the IRO should ensure that the social worker arranges as a matter of urgency to consider the most appropriate permanent alternative.


10. Children and Young People in Care Reviews Concerning Children in Long Term Foster Placements

The revised Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review (June 2015) sets out that where a child is placed in a designated long-term foster placement and has been in this placement for more than a year consideration should be given to whether it is necessary to hold a meeting as part of each review.

The guidance requires that the social worker should consult the IRO and the child (where appropriate to age and understanding) in reaching a decision on whether to hold a meeting. Where it is agreed that a meeting will not be held as part of every review a meeting should be held at least once a year. The factors leading to a decision to hold review meetings on a less frequent basis must be recorded in the child’s Care Plan.

Where a decision is taken that the review process will not include a meeting the IRO must ensure that full consultation with all relevant individuals, including the child, has taken place to inform the review of the child’s case.


11. Children and Young People in Care Reviews on Children who are the Subject of Child Protection Plans

In most cases where a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan becomes a Child in Care it will no longer be necessary to maintain the Child Protection Plan; however the decision to end a protection plan can only be made following multi agency consultation and full consideration of the risk and protective factors.

When a child subject to a Child Protection Plan becomes a Child in Care the local authority admin team will write to conference participants to advise of the change and to seek views about whether the safeguarding issues are fully addressed via the care planning process.

If any party feels that there are protection issues that are not addressed by the Care Plan the protection plan will continue to be reviewed via multi agency conference meetings for as long as conference members deem this necessary. If the consensus view is that the care planning process satisfactorily addresses the protection needs the protection plan will cease.

Where a Child in Care remains the subject of a Child Protection Plan there will be a single planning and reviewing process, led and chaired by the IRO, In which the meeting (possibly held in two halves) initially reviews the Child Protection aspects of the plan and whether the criteria continue to be met for the child to remain the subject of a Child Protection Plan, and then goes on to review other aspects of the Care Plan. It is likely that fewer participants will be required to directly contribute to the Children and Young People in Care Review than to the review of the Child Protection aspects of the plan.

If the meeting is held in two halves, a record of the conference will be made by the panel and conference admin team. A summary of the conference discussion will be included in the record of the Children and Young People in Care Review which will be recorded by the IRO.

The Child Protection Plan will be incorporated into the Care Plan, such that there is only one plan for the child.

Significant changes to the Care Plan can only be made at the Children and Young People in Care Review.

The timing of the review of the child protection aspects of the Care Plan should be as in Section 2, Frequency of Children and Young People in Care Reviews above).


12. Recording of Children and Young People in Care Reviews

It is the responsibility of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) to record the review. A written record of the decisions and recommendations will be completed and sent by the Independent Review Officer to the social worker and designated manager within 5 working days of the meeting.- see Section 13, Review Decisions.

The full written record of the review (including any commentary from the designated manager) will be completed and distributed to review participants within 20 working days of the completion of the review.

The full record should contain an accurate and comprehensive record of the meeting, or meetings, which constituted the review and of the views of all those who attended or were consulted as part of the review process. The record should also reflect the review process for a designated long term foster placement where a meeting did not take place.

The decisions should have any identifying details removed as necessary, for example, exceptionally, the address of the placement.

Where parents do not attend the review/part of the meeting and contribute their views in some other manner, a discussion should take place between the social worker and the IRO as to whether it is in the child’s interest for the parents to receive a full record of the review, and, if not, what written information should be sent to them. Examples of where this should be a consideration are where there is a ‘no contact order’ or supervised contact only.


13. Review Decisions

The Practice Manager should consider the decisions made at each Children and Young People in Care Review within five working days of receiving them and to advise the IRO and all those who attended the review if they are unable to agree them.

If no response is received the decisions should be considered agreed by the Local Authority and should be implemented within the timescales set out in them.

If the Practice Manager disagrees with any of the decisions within that initial five working day period, this should be notified in writing to the IRO and all those who attended the review.

In the first instance the IRO should attempt to resolve the issue informally. If this is not successful the IRO can consider activating the local dispute resolution process - see Section 16, Dispute Resolution.


14. Monitoring of Review Decisions

The Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) plays an important part in the quality assurance function of the local authority's service for Children in Care, it will be important that they recognise and report on good practice by individuals or teams.

It is important for the IRO to have a collaborative relationship with the social workers and their managers.

Monitoring sheets must be completed by the IRO after every review meeting in order that accurate data is reported for audit, quality assurance and individual performance management. A copy of the monitoring form will be returned to the social worker and manager at the same time as the record of the review discussion. If the IRO has concerns about any aspect of the planning they will use the monitoring form to highlight any Tracked Recommendations that require direct feedback within an agreed timescale.

The performance monitoring information is then coordinated by the Quality Assurance Service Manager and reported on quarterly to the relevant managers.

Where there is evidence of poor practice, the IRO should, wherever practicable, address these issues through the normal channels, contacting the social worker's manager and where necessary the Independent Review Unit Manager.


15. Tracked Recommendations

If the IRO identifies any issues where there is potential for relatively low level drift, delay or the local authority is failing in its statutory duty to the child the IRO may chose to use the review monitoring form to highlight the issue as a ‘Tracked Recommendation’. In this case the IRO should agree a date with the social worker by which the issue will be addressed, or the social worker will inform the IRO of progress made to address the issue. If the issue has not been resolved within the agreed timescale, the IRO will be prompted to review the issue again with the social worker and manager. If the issue can not be informally resolved in discussion with the Service Manager the IRO may choose to initiate the Dispute Resolution process.

See also Tracked Recommendation Process.


16. Dispute Resolution

See Dispute Resolution Flow Chart.

Every local authority must have a formal dispute resolution process that is adhered to and prioritised by managers whereby IRO's can raise concerns if they believe that the Local Authority has failed in any significant respect to prepare the child’s Care Plan; review the child’s case or effectively implement any decision in consequence of a review; or are otherwise in breach of their duties to the child in any material respect.

The IRO should always seek to resolve issues at the lowest strategic level, but the process should quickly enable them to seek resolution through every tier of management up to Chief Executive level, with identified timescales for a response at each stage. The overall timescale for resolution of the issue once the formal dispute resolution process is initiated should not exceed 20 working days.

The IRO has the authority to refer the case to CAFCASS where he or she considers it appropriate to do so and must consider a referral to CAFCASS where, having drawn any failures as set out above to the attention of persons of appropriate seniority in the Local Authority, the issues have not been addressed to his or her satisfaction within a reasonable period of time.

End