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7.6 Protocol Between Independent Reviewing Officer and Children’s Guardians

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This protocol is between Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Independent Reviewing Services and CAFCASS. The protocol aims to ensure that there is closer liaison between IROs (Independent Reviewing Officers) and CAFCASS following the implementation of the IRO Handbook which highlighted specific areas where the two parties will work in conjunction.


Contents

  1. Purpose of Protocol

    Appendix 1: CAFCASS Practice note 2011: CAFCASS and the work of Independent Reviewing Officers the effect of Therapy on the Legal Process

    Appendix 2: IRO Handbook - Chapter 8. CAFCASS


1. Purpose of Protocol

The implementation of the IRO Handbook (Statutory guidance for Independent Reviewing Officers and Local Authorities on their functions in relation to case management and review for Looked After Children) has identified two distinct areas in which the IRO will work in conjunction with CAFCASS:

  • As part of family proceedings when a child is Looked After; and
  • When an IRO makes a referral to CAFCASS (this process is addressed within the IRO Dispute Resolution Process)

This document has been compiled by Nottinghamshire and Nottingham city Independent Reviewing Services and CAFCASS. The purpose of the document is to ensure that there is closer liaison between IROs (Independent Reviewing Officers) and Children's Guardians and to ensure relevant information about Care Plans for Looked After Children are shared and issues addressed.

  1. On receipt of an application from the Local Authority, a representative from CAFCASS will make contact with IRO admin and ascertain the name of the designated IRO. CAFCASS will also advise IRO admin of the name of the allocated Guardian, in order that this information can be shared with the relevant allocated IRO;
  2. The IRO and Children's Guardian will establish contact with each other and consider what communication is necessary in order to promote the best possible care planning process for each child. The Guardian will carry out their own assessment of the Local Authority's Care Plan and should discuss with the IRO any concerns they may have about the details of the Plan;
  3. In the event that the Children's Guardian is appointed prior to the first Looked After review, attendance at the initial review should be considered as an opportunity to establish contact. The name of the Guardian will have been supplied when the initial contact was made with the IRO service prior to the first directions appointment at court and contact should be made with the Guardian by the allocated IRO when the date of the initial LAC review is known;
  4. The Children's Guardian should be advised of each review meeting and invited where appropriate. Children's Guardian's to receive an invitation to all relevant LAC reviews
  5. Children's Guardian to receive a copy of each relevant review record. The Independent Reviewing Service will need to liaise with the Local Authority Legal Department to ensure that this requirement is placed on record as per the IRO Handbook (section 8.4);
  6. The IRO should ensure that discussions take place with the Guardian. The IRO and the Guardian should discuss and agree how often and in what manner these should occur. Discussions can include issues such as:
    • The wishes and feelings of the child;
    • The current Care Plan;
    • Whether details of the Care Plan are subject to a formal dispute resolution process;
    • Any complaints received about the case;
    • Any issues raised in court in relation to the implementation of the Care Plan (see section 8.5 of the IRO Handbook).
  7. Prior to the Issues Resolution Hearing, the Local Authority should inform the court of any dispute between the Local Authority and IRO about the plan for the child and any issues subject to the dispute resolution process;
  8. In all cases where the child is to remain Looked After, following the completion of proceedings, there should be a final discussion and any outstanding issues should be identified and kept under review;
  9. The content of discussions between the Children's Guardian and IRO should be recorded on the child's case record;
  10. In all cases where the child remains looked after, the Children's Guardian will confirm that all relevant documents have been forwarded to the IRO, these being:
    • Section 31A Care Plan;
    • Children's Guardian report;
    • Copy of the final order;
    • Outline of contact arrangements (if not covered in the Care Plan).
  11. This Protocol will be reviewed alongside any issues arising from the Dispute Resolution process at IRO/CAFCASS link meetings scheduled on a 6 monthly basis.


Appendix 1: CAFCASS Practice note 2011: CAFCASS and the work of Independent Reviewing Officers the effect of Therapy on the Legal Process

Click here to view Appendix 1: CAFCASS Practice note 2011: CAFCASS and the work of Independent Reviewing Officers the effect of Therapy on the Legal Process.


Appendix 2 : IRO Handbook - Chapter 8. CAFCASS

Click here to view Appendix 1: CAFCASS Practice note 2011: CAFCASS and the work of Independent Reviewing Officers the effect of Therapy on the Legal Process.

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