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11.3.3 Looked After Reviews


This procedure details the purpose of the Looked After Review which is to ensure that appropriate plans are in place to safeguard and promote the welfare of the Looked After Child. It covers the roles and responsibilities of those including the social worker and The Independent Reviewing Officer.


Children Act 1989

Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010

The IRO Handbook 2010

Working Together to Safeguard Children

Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review


Section 9, The Role of the Looked After Review in Achieving Permanence for the Child was amended in January 2019 to reflect the outcome of a High Court Judgement in respect of children who were subject to Section 20 and where there were concerns of significant delays in their planning for permanence. The court noted the IROs’ recognition and action over a number of reviews but acknowledged that a more robust response had been needed.


  1. The Purpose of Looked After Reviews
  2. Frequency of Looked After Reviews
  3. Chairing of Reviews
  4. Convening Looked After 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 Looked After Review in Achieving Permanence for the Child 
  10. Looked After Reviews Concerning Children in Long Term Foster Placements
  11. Looked After Reviews on Children who are the Subject of Child Protection Plans
  12. Recording of Looked After Reviews
  13. Monitoring of Review Decisions
  14. Duty of Social Worker to Keep IRO Informed
  15. Dispute Resolution

1. The Purpose of Looked After Reviews

The purpose of a Looked After Review is to consider the quality of the child's Care Plan, based on the Local Authority's assessment of the child's needs. The review will need to monitor the progress of the plan and make decisions to amend the plan as necessary in light of changed knowledge and circumstances. A 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.

Looked After 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, Looked After Reviews Concerning Children in Long Term Foster Placements).

The purpose of the Looked After Review is to:

  • To ensure that appropriate plans are in place to safeguard and promote the overall welfare of the Looked After child in the most effective way and achieve permanence for them within a timescale that meets their 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 that the views of the child, their parents, carers and other significant persons are considered;
  • To ensure the needs of children looked after 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 Looked After Reviews are implemented and responsibility for actions clearly defined.

The key plans that should be considered at a Looked After Review are:

The review should also take account of the child's Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record) and any other plans; strategies (e.g. behaviour management strategy) or risk assessments, ensuring that they are up to date, or that arrangements are in place to update them. The outcomes framework for residential placements should also be considered if the child is in a residential placement.

It should be noted that the review is a process rather than an event and its function cannot always be completed in a single meeting.

2. Frequency of Looked After Reviews


Looked After Reviews should be convened at the following intervals:

  • An initial Looked After Review should be conducted within 20 days of the child becoming Looked After. This includes placement with connected persons under Regulation 24 (Care Planning, Placement and Case Review Regulations 2010);
  • The second Looked After Review should be conducted within three months (91 days) of an Initial Looked After Review;
  • Subsequent Looked After Reviews should be conducted not more than six months (183 days) 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.

Looked After Reviews should be brought forward in the following circumstances:

  • 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. In addition a review must be convened when there is a proposal to move a child to unregulated accommodation before the age of 18;
  • 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 looked after child.

The reason for an early review should be recorded in the Chair’s report.

3. Chairing of Reviews

Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO's) will chair reviews. They are located within the Independent Reviewing Officers Team. An IRO must be appointed when a child becomes ‘looked after’. The name of the IRO and his/her contact details must be recorded on the child’s case record.

Sibling groups, whether or not placed together, should have the same IRO, except where conflict of interest between siblings makes this inappropriate or the size of the sibling group makes this unmanageable.

The child should be given notification of his/her IRO, along with details about how to make contact with him/her.

The IRO should be allocated for the duration that the child is looked after and should continue as the IRO if a child returns to care of the same Local Authority at a later date, if reasonably practicable.

Where a mother and/or father and their child are looked after, the child should have a different IRO.

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

If the allocated IRO cannot attend the meeting and it is important that the review meeting is not delayed, the meeting will be chaired/attended by a substitute IRO.

4. Convening Looked After Reviews

4.1 Arranging the first review

When agreement is given for a child to be accommodated an Initial review should be booked within 2 working days of the child being accommodated. The social worker will inform the IRO Business Support Team by email to in order to access the Review Request form, which will then be returned via email to This notification arrangement must also take place when a child is placed with a connected person under Reg. 24.

The Placements and Commissioning Team inform the Reviewing Team of any child admitted to Local Authority Care or Looked After by the Department.

It is the responsibility of the social worker to book the initial review with the IRO team within timescale.

Reviews will be allocated within 5 working days of the review request being received by IRO business support. IRO business support will email the social worker within 24 hours of allocation to confirm the date and time of the initial review and will also write to the child/young person inviting them to their review meeting with the name of their IRO and a Listen To Me booklet. IRO Business Support will also inform the team manager, the supervising social worker, if named, or the fostering team manager and also the Child Protection Co-ordinator if the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan.

At the point of booking the review, the social worker must state if the child is subject of a Child Protection Plan, the child's legal status and the name of the Child's Guardian if appropriate. Please see the CAFCASS and Independent Reviewing Officers Good Practice Protocol for Public Law Work.

The legal department will advise the court of the name of the IRO.

The legal department will provide all relevant court documents to the IRO within 5 working days of receipt of them.

The IRO will liaise with the relevant Child Protection Co-ordinator regarding any case where a looked after child is also subject to a child protection plan.

Reviews should not be cancelled, re-arranged or adjourned without full discussion and agreement by the Service manager, independent chair service, and fieldwork service manager. Agreement will not be given to requests for cancellations if this means that the review cannot be arranged within timescales.

When a 16/17 year old has been accommodated solely on the grounds of homelessness due to lack of suitable supported accommodation, the period of care can be ended when suitable accommodation is found without a review meeting, where the period is less than 20 days.

In these circumstances the responsible CSM will record this decision on the child’s file. The required episodes on Mosaic will be completed and the IRO informed where one has been appointed.

Any dispute arising from this process will be resolved between the CSM fieldwork and CSM Independent Chair Service.

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, in consultation with review participants.

Occasionally an IRO may consider adjourning a review meeting, and this must be discussed and agreed with an ICS service manager.

Circumstances in which the IRO might consider an adjournment include:

  • The IRO not being satisfied that the Local Authority has complied adequately with all the requirements relating to reviews (e.g. the duty to consult the child, the child’s parents and others before taking decisions with respect to the child, or appropriate planning and paperwork being available) and that such omissions will adversely affect the efficacy of the review; and
  • The IRO not being satisfied that the child has been properly prepared for the meeting.

Where the review is adjourned by the IRO, the date of the review for recording purposes is the date on which the review was originally scheduled to take place.

The IRO may adjourn a review meeting once, but the review should be completed within 20 working days. 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.

If a review is not due as a young person approaches their 18th birthday an additional review should be convened. If it is likely that a child will cease to be Looked After at any other time, the child’s social worker must notify the IRO and consideration will be given to a final review.

5. Invitations and the Child's Participation

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 and where the meeting will be held.

The IRO must speak with the young person before the review to ascertain their views about the plans for their care and the services they are receiving and discuss any particular issues the young person may want to raise within their review meeting. Depending upon their age and understanding the young person should be invited to chair all or part of their review meeting and should be asked what support they may want in order to participate in their review.

An invitation for every LAC review that takes place for children originating in Nottinghamshire is sent to the relevant Children in Care Health teams. This is done in alongside an invitation to the involved local health professionals.

The responsibility for sending invitations to initial and subsequent reviews lie with the social worker, who is also responsible for booking an appropriate venue. Should there be any subsequent need to change the venue for the review this must be discussed with the IRO prior to any arrangement to change the venue. IRO business support sends an invitation to the child (over 5 years old) for initial reviews.

Invitations to reviews and consultation documents should be sent out to all those participating in the review at least 10 working days before the meeting.

In discussion with the child the following people should be considered for invitation:

  • The parents and those with Parental Responsibility, carers and any significant people or specialists involved in the child's case (except as set out below);
  • 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 looked after children);
  • A Personal Adviser, if the child is over the age of 16;
  • An Advocate or Independent Visitor, if involved;
  • The Guardian, if one is appointed;
  • If required, an interpreter;
  • 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);
  • The officer with lead responsibility for implementing the authority's duty to promote the educational achievement of its looked after children.
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.

The child's social worker must ensure that children and families have been given information about the Complaints Procedure. They should provide the child with details of independent advocacy services who may provide support if the child requires it.

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. Separate arrangements will be made for the IRO to meet the child/parents and this will be recorded within the review report.

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.

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.

Where the child wishes to chair their own review, the social worker should inform the IRO to discuss how this will be arranged, bearing in mind the age and needs of the child/young person.

In all cases, the child and parent(s) should be encouraged and supported by the social worker to prepare for the review, by completing the Listen To Me booklet or writing or drawing or recording their views 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, which must take place at least 15 days prior to the review, and should be part of a thorough preparation of all the key issues for the review. The social worker will provide consultation leaflets for birth parents and support them in the completion of these. The social worker is responsible for ensuring that parents, carers and the child have sight of the social worker’s Looked after Child’s Report and Care Plan before the meeting so that they can comment on these, either orally or within the consultation document provided. In some exceptional circumstances it would not be appropriate for parents to attend the review meeting and the reasons for this should be discussed with the IRO and recorded clearly by the social worker. Separate arrangements will be made for the IRO to meet the parents and recorded within the review report.

The social worker is responsible for arranging for an interpreter to attend the review if required. This needs careful planning to ensure the review is not delayed.

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 they believe that decisions made at a review are no longer appropriate because of a change in circumstances.

The social worker must discuss any concerns, issues, factors or risks that might impact on the review process with the IRO as soon as these are identified.

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 social worker must send the IRO the following documents, or inform the IRO they are available on Framework, at least 3 working days before the review:

  • Review of Arrangements Report;
  • Care Plan;
  • Pathway Plan, if applicable.

The Care Plan and Review of Arrangements Report should have been seen and signed by the team manager.

Copies of these documents should be brought to the review by the social worker for all review participants.

In addition, the child's social worker should have completed on Framework the following documents for the IRO prior to the review:

  • All completed consultation documents (the social worker is responsible for sending these to the child, carers and family members as appropriate);
  • Personal Health Plan;
  • Personal Education Plan;
  • Adoption Support Plan (if applicable);
  • Updated Risk Assessment;
  • Any other relevant reports by professionals.

It is not necessary to copy these for all participants. The IRO may have a pre meeting with the social worker to review the relevant aspects of the Health Action Plan and Personal Education Plan. The IRO will then summarise these documents during the review and provide information about the discussion with the social worker as appropriate.

The social worker should ensure the IRO has access to assessments and background information relevant to the Care Plan.

The social worker should liaise with other professionals outside social care and other significant parties and request that reports are sent to the IRO 3 working days before the review meeting.

The supervising social worker, residential social worker and family finder are responsible for providing a report for the IRO 3 days before the review.

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 Permanence Plan, Health Care Plan and Personal Education Plan as required, and arrange for a Pathway Plan to be completed or updated, if relevant.

The social worker should also ensure that the child's Placement Plan (recorded on the Placement Information Record) is updated.

Where the child and/or the parents are unable to attend the review, the social worker must ensure that they are informed in writing of the outcome.

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. If a child has particular needs in order to participate in the review, for example those arising from disability, these must 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.

8. Independent Reviewing Officer's Responsibilities

The IRO's role is to:

  • Monitor the performance by the Local Authority of their functions in relation to the child's case;
  • Participate in any review of the child's case;
  • Ensure that any ascertained wishes and feelings of the child concerning the case are given due consideration by the authority.

There are two clear and separate aspects to the function of the IRO

  1. Chairing the child's review; and
  2. Monitoring the case on an on-going basis.

In relation to their role at reviews, 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 with communication difficulties have their views obtained and effectively presented in the review.

The IRO must speak with the child before each review.

The IRO should speak to the social worker at least 15 working days before the review about the preparation for the review, who will be doing what, consultation paperwork and any significant changes to the Care Plan and/or significant events. This will include a discussion about any potential safeguarding issues. Where the child is subject to a child protection plan and the IRO is conducting a first review the IRO will ensure that the CPC is made aware of the child’s looked after status in order that a decision can be made about the continuation of the protection plan. As the review is a process and not a single meeting both reviewing systems should be aligned so that the full range of the child’s needs can be considered in the Looked After child’s care planning and reviewing processes. (Please refer to the PPG relating to Dual Status).

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 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. 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 their parents present. The first of these meetings should be agreed as the main review meeting and this should be recorded as the date of the review on Framework.

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 present at the meeting.

Where participants' feel their views have been disregarded, or the Care Plan is not supported by all attendees, this must be discussed in the meeting and any differences of opinion must be noted in the recording of the meeting.

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

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).

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.

The IRO will decide on what actions in principle are necessary to meet the child's reviewed needs and make recommendations as to how these should be achieved.

Where a review considers that adoption is the most appropriate way to meet the child's needs, the recommendation is then submitted to the agency decision maker for consideration - see Placement for Adoption Procedure.

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

  • Whether there are any safeguarding concerns, should information shared in the review indicate safeguarding concerns, including missing episodes or concerns regarding sexual exploitation, the IRO will immediately liaise with the team manager and CPC about the need for a strategy discussion or other action. Should the child be subject of a safeguarding plan the IRO will discuss with the team manager and the CPC whether there is any need to continue or end the safeguarding plan;
  • The effect of any change in the child’s circumstances since the last review;
  • Whether decisions and recommendations made at the last review have been successfully implemented and if not, why not;
  • What the legal status of the child is and whether this remains appropriate – for example, where the child is looked after under section 20 of the Children Act 1989, whether this status provides the basis for legal security for the child so that proper plans can be made to provide him/her with the secure attachments that will meet his/her needs through to adulthood. Whether legal orders are still appropriate and whether the Local Authority is taking timely and appropriate action to revoke orders following an agreed change in the Care Plan. If the child is accommodated under section 20 of the Children Act 1989 do those with parental responsibility for the child continue to give informed consent to their child’s accommodation and have they sought independent legal advice. Consideration should be given to their capacity to give informed consent;
  • Whether the child’s plan includes a plan for permanence within realistic timescales that are meaningful for the child – this must include plans for permanency from the second review onwards’ the arrangements for contact in relation to parents, siblings and other family members or significant connected persons, whether these take into account the child’s current wishes and feelings and whether any changes are needed to these arrangements. The review can only consider adoption as the Local Authority’s preferred option when all assessments of birth family members, extended birth family members and others have been completed;
  • Whether the placement is meeting the needs of the child – this should include consideration of the attachments between the child and those caring for him/her, how the Local Authority is ensuring that the placement provides the quality of care that the child needs and whether any change to the arrangements is necessary or likely before the next review. The Listen To Me leaflet and the consultation documents from parents and carers will inform this assessment;
  • The child’s educational needs, progress and development and whether any actions need to be taken or are likely to become necessary before the next review, in order to ensure that the child’s educational needs are met and not neglected (this should include consideration of the current Personal Education Plan (PEP);
  • The leisure activities in which the child is engaging and whether these are meeting the child’s needs and expressed interests;
  • The report of the most recent assessment of the child’s health and whether any change to the arrangements for the child’s health are necessary or likely before the next review, in order to ensure that the child’s health needs are met and not neglected; a Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire should be completed for each child aged between 4 and 16 years and the score from this should be brought to the review. The review should consider the emotional health and wellbeing needs of the child and if any interventions are necessary and whether they have been provided for the child;
  • The identity needs of the child and how these are being met;
  • Whether the arrangement to provide advice support and assistance to the child continues to be appropriate and understood by the child;
  • Whether any arrangements need to be made for the time when the child will no longer be looked after, so that the child will be properly prepared and supported to make this significant move;
  • Whether the child’s social worker has taken steps to ascertain the child’s wishes and feelings, that the Care Plan has taken these into consideration and that the Care Plan demonstrates this;
  • Whether the child is being visited by the social worker at least at the minimum statutory intervals, that the child has been seen alone on these visits, that the child’s bedroom has been seen on these visits and that the child has also been visited when they have requested a visit from the social worker;
  • That plans and decisions to advance the overall planning for the child’s care have been taken and acted upon in a timely way;
  • That the child is aware of their legal rights, their entitlement to an advocate and to make a complaint if they are unhappy with the service offered them;
  • That, where appropriate, an independent visitor has been considered with the child;
  • Whether the delegation of authority to take decisions about a child’s care continues to be appropriate and in the child’s best interests;
  • Other matters which may arise should also be considered with due regard to the circumstances of the child and the placement.

The IRO is responsible for setting any remedial timescales if timely actions have not been taken and if there is a risk of drift in the delivery of a plan that would meet the needs of the child. The dispute resolution process must be implemented in these cases.

After the review, the IRO will complete the monitoring episode within Framework to record how the child and parents participated in the review process.

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 15, Dispute Resolution.

9. The Role of the Looked After Review in Achieving Permanence for the Child

The Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) must check that the child's Care Plan includes a permanence plan with measurable milestones and a contingency plan should the preferred plans not materialise.

At the second Looked after Review, there is a requirement to agree a permanence plan, with a timescale which is realistic, achievable and meets the child's needs. At this point a parallel plan may be pursued. If it is considered that the chosen avenue to permanence is not viable, the IRO should ensure that the social worker that an alternative permanence plan should be identified.

At a looked after child’s review the IRO can made a decision of a parallel plan: being adoption if a placement with a relative cannot be found.

The IRO may then go on to make a preferred option decision without a further LAC review if when all the viability assessments have been seen by the IRO they are all negative. In this situation the IRO will make a case note to state that the preferred option is now adoption due to the viability assessments being negative.

If a viability assessment is positive then a LAC review will need to be convened.

All reviews should review the progress and validity of the Care Plan.

Children who are Section 20 Accommodated (Children Act 1989): IROs should pay particular regard to children accommodated under S.20 to ensure there is appropriate progression of their plans and that there are no delays in respect of them having ‘permanence’, (which should include a return home). A High Court judgement (see Herefordshire Council v AB [2018] EWFC 10 rtf) was critical of protracted delay in a child’s planning and failure to respond to a parent’s request to have a child return home to their care under S. 20(8). Further, that the IRO, whilst recognising the issues of delay and planning, and highlighting these to managers, did not respond more robustly (see Section 15, Conflict Resolution).

The judgement considered that in circumstances where the threshold criteria (for Care / Supervision Orders) under Section 31 Children Act 1989 are met, (i.e. where a child is at risk of significant harm, or the likelihood of significant harm), then care proceedings should be issued without delay.

10. Looked After Reviews Concerning Children in Long Term Foster Placements

Paragraph 4.17 of The 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. Looked after Reviews on Children who are the Subject of Child Protection Plans

In most cases where a child is subject of a Child Protection Plan becomes looked after, it will no longer be necessary to maintain the Child Protection Plan. There are however a relatively few cases where safeguarding issues will remain and a Looked After Child should also be subject to a Child Protection Plan. Please see PPG on children and young people subject to dual status.

Where there are no plans for rehabilitation the Child Protection Plan should be ended. In such circumstances it may not be necessary to hold a review conference to agree that a Child Protection Plan is no longer necessary.

The Child Protection Coordinator / Independent Reviewing Officer and Team Manager should meet to review the Care Plan and to ensure the child protection needs are met in the Care Plan.

12. Recording of Looked After 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 circulated by the Independent Reviewing Officer to the team manager within 5 working days of the meeting who will consider the decisions made at the review within 5 working days of receiving them and advise the IRO and all those attending the review if they are unable to agree them. If no response is received the decisions should be considered agreed by the Local Authority. The IRO should attempt to resolve the issue informally. If unsuccessful consideration will be given to the use of the IRO Dispute Resolution Process (see Section 15, Dispute Resolution).

The full written record of the review should be completed by the IRO within 15 working days 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 full written record of the review, including the decisions should be distributed within 20 working days of the completion of the review.

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

The social worker is required to update the child’s Care Plan in relation to any changes to those agreed at the review within 10 working days of the review date.

IRO admin will ensure that the relevant documentation is sent to all professionals attending the meeting or sending apologies within 20 working days of the meeting. Secure email will be used where available. The timescales for the above processes are tracked and monitored by the service mangers for the Independent Chair Service.

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.

The social worker will ensure that the child has sight of the record of the meeting and that they discuss relevant parts of the report as appropriate with relevant parents/carers, bearing in mind that some information may need to be withheld, e.g. carer addresses to protect the child/carers.

13. 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 looked after children, 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 information (the chairs monitoring form) 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.

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 service managers, Independent Chair Service. If appropriate the Dispute Resolution Process will be used.

14. Duty of Social Worker to Keep IRO Informed

The social worker must inform the IRO of significant changes/events in the child's life including:

  • Any proposed change of Care Plan, for example arising at short notice in the course of the proceedings following directions from the court;
  • Where agreed decisions from the review are not carried out within the specified timescale;
  • Major changes to the contact arrangements;
  • Changes of allocated social worker;
  • Any safeguarding concerns involving the child which may lead to enquiries being made under Section 7 of the 1989 Act ('child protection enquiries') and outcomes of child protection conferences or other meetings that are not attended by the IRO;
  • Complaints from or on behalf of the child, parent or carer;
  • Unexpected changes in the child's placement provision which may significantly impact on placement stability or safeguarding arrangements;
  • Significant changes in birth family circumstances for example births, marriages or deaths which may have a particular impact on the child;
  • If the child is charged with any offence leading to referral to youth offending services, pending criminal proceedings and any convictions or sentences as a result of such proceedings;
  • If the child is excluded from school;
  • If the child has run away or is missing from an approved placement;
  • Significant health, medical events, diagnoses, illnesses, hospitalisations or serious accidents; and
  • Panel decisions in relation to permanency.

15. Dispute Resolution

Where the IRO believes 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 following procedure will apply:

The IRO has the authority to refer the case to CAFCASS at any stage of the resolution process where they consider 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 their satisfaction within a reasonable period of time.