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Independent reviewing officers must make more difference to the lives of children who are looked after, says Ofsted

07 Jun 2013

In a report published today, Ofsted finds that independent reviewing officers are not making enough positive impact on the quality of care planning and outcomes for looked after children. They have been too slow in taking on their enhanced responsibilities.

The purpose of an independent reviewing officer (IRO) is to ensure that the care plan for a looked after child clearly sets out the help, care and support that they need and takes full account of their wishes and feelings. Local authorities are required by law to appoint an IRO for each looked after child. Since April 2011, changes to care planning regulations have strengthened the IRO role. IROs are now not only responsible for chairing statutory reviews but also for monitoring children’s care plans on an ongoing basis. IROs should also monitor the local authority’s overall performance as a ‘corporate parent’ for looked after children (as ‘corporate parents’, all those who have responsibility for looked children should act for the children as a responsible and conscientious parent would act for their own children).

The survey report Independent reviewing officers: taking up the challenge? draws on evidence from 111 cases across 10 local authorities. Inspectors found that IROs did not always sufficiently challenge drift and delay in plans for individual children. Children’s views were not always taken into full account. The IRO role in assessing the effectiveness of local authority support and plans for looked after children was underdeveloped.
 

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