Agenda item

The Independent Reviewing Officer Report

To receive an update on the Independent Reviewing Officer Report.




Joanne McCartan, Service Manager Safeguarding, gave the following powerpoint presentation highlighting:-


¾                IRO outcomes

¾                Quality assurance

¾                Children’s participation in reviews

¾                Health of Looked After Children

¾                Education of Looked After Children

¾                Placement stability

¾                Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

¾                Adoption

¾                Key actions for 2023-24


Attention was drawn/discussion ensued on the following:-


·                   The IRO Service had delivered 1,600 reviews, 91.7% in timescale

·                   94.8% of children had an up-to-date care plan.  Care plans should be updated within 10 days of the LAC review.  This was tracked by the IRO

·                   41.8% of children who had been LAC 6 months or more had had a Midway Review.  This was a decrease of 67.5% from 1st April, 2022

·                   273 children had been visited within the last 6 months (52.7%)

·                   The voice of the child was central to IRO practice.  Visits were explored in supervision with each IRO to ensure there was planning around this.  For those children that might not want to see their IRO, alternative ways of ensuring the voice of the child was being explored.  One IRO had developed refreshed booklets to try and encourage children to record their view for their review

·                   An escalation dashboard was being worked up and would feature in the 2023/24 annual report

·                   Quality assurance provided the opportunity to ensure that the Local Authority was carrying out its duties to those children it looked after.  IROs independence was key to holding the Local Authority to account

·                   IROs had several avenues for progressing plans and ensuring oversight i.e. IRO footprint

·                   Where there were concerns that a child’s care journey was drifting or serious concerns about the standard of care and Social Work intervention, the IRO will most commonly revert to a formal escalation

·                   163 escalation discussion case notes were recorded.  95 formal escalations raised.  All of these were resolved at either stage 1 or 2.  The overwhelming rationale for the escalations related to drift and delay including no pre-meeting reports, delay in discharge of orders, assessment not completed timely or delay in important work such as life story

·                   Children and young people encouraged and supported to attend their reviews with some feeling confident to chair them themselves

·                   IROs encouraged to speak with the child prior to the review to discuss venue, attendees and what they wanted to discuss.  IRO visits had increased since the pandemic

·                   Face-to-face meetings were now standard practice unless the voice of child indicated another preference

·                   The Service worked close with the Rights 2 Rights Advocacy Services to ensure that those children who required/requested an advocate were supported and heard in the process

·                   656 children had felt able to attend the reviews and speak for themselves.  The focus for the next 12 months was how to increase attendance at their LAC reviews

·                   376 children had an up-to-date Health Assessment (93.1%), 28% did not have a Health Assessment (6.9%), 11 assessments were refused and 150 Initial Health Assessments were carried out and of those 59.3% were within the 20 days timescale.  There was a need to be clear as to why a child refused a health assessment as there was currently no recording system to identify why a health/dental assessment had been refused

·                   350 children had a recorded up-to-date dental assessment (86.6%), 54 young people (13.4%) did not have an up-to-date appointment

·                   96.7% of children had an up-to-date PEP

·                   Placement stability had decreased by approximately 6%; 142 out of 220 children who had/had been in placement for over 2.5 years

·                   During the year 536 new placements had commenced with 354 of those being placement moves i.e. for children already in Local Authority care.  9.96% (54) young people experienced placement instability of 3 years or more

·                   The IRO maintained oversight of placement instability and the impact on the child, reviewing changes in placement and raising appropriate escalations if necessary

·                   As at 31st March, 2023, the Local Authority had 36 children in its care who were considered to be unaccompanied asylum seeking children.  Combining with those that turned 18 and were part of the Learning Care Service, this increased to 66

·                   All of these young people were subject to Section 20 Agreements

·                   A slight reduction had begun to be seen with 39 presenting at the beginning of the year to 36 in March 2023

·                   There had been 24 adoptions in the period concerned

·                   A lot of work had been done with Social Workers in the last 6 months trying to enforce the importance of reports submitted before the review meeting.  Reviews were now stood down if a report had not been received and formal discussion would be entered into followed by escalation if the completed report was not received prior to the review

·                   Work was also taking place on developing a care plan and looking at the assessment and pre-review report for LAC to make it child focussed and not as long

·                   The Authority had a really good voice of the child offer but consideration was being given as to how that could be restructured and give a holistic picture and the wider care population


Resolved:-  That the presentation and 2022/23 annual report be noted.

Supporting documents: