Note that different provisions apply to children who acquire Looked After status as a result of a remand to local authority accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation. In relation to those children, please see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People on Remand.
In July 2020, this chapter was extensively updated and should be read in full.
- The Purpose of Our Children's Reviews
- Frequency of Our Children's Reviews
- Chairing of Reviews
- Our Children's Review Meeting
- The Role of the Social Worker
- Supporters and Interpreters
- Independent Reviewing Officer's Responsibilities
- The Role of the Review in Achieving Permanence for the Child
- Our Children's Reviews Concerning Children in Long Term Foster Homes
- Our Children's Reviews for Children who are the Subject of Child Protection Plans
- Recording of Our Children's Reviews
- Review Decisions
- Monitoring of Review Decisions
- Conflict Resolution
1. The Purpose of Our Children's Reviews
An Our Children's 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.
Our Children's 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 home for over 12 months (see Section 9, Our Children's Reviews Concerning Children in Long Term Foster Home).
The purpose of the Our Children's Review is to:
- Ensure that appropriate plans are in place to safeguard and promote the overall welfare of the 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 the needs of our children on secure remand are met;
- To ensure that an Eligible Young Person moving into semi-independent accommodation is ready and prepared to move;
- For a young person living in foster care, the first Our Children's Review Meeting following their 16th birthday should consider whether a Staying Put arrangement (whereby the young person remains in the foster home after the age of 18) should be an option.
It is important that decisions taken at Our Children's Reviews are implemented and responsibility for actions clearly defined.
The key plans that should be considered at a Our Children's Review are:
- Care Plan;
- Permanence Plan;
- Health Care Plan;
- Pathway Plan if applicable;
- Personal Education Plan (PEP);
The review should also take account of the child's Placement Plan and any other plans or strategies (e.g. behaviour management strategy), ensuring that they are up to date, or that arrangements are in place to update them.
2. Frequency of Our Children's Reviews
2.1 Frequency of review meetings
|The first review of the Care Plan must take place within 20 working days of the date when the child first came into our care.|
|The second review must take place no more than 3 months (91 days) after the date of the first review.|
|The third and any subsequent reviews should take place no more than 6 months (183 days) after the previous review.|
Arrangements can be made to review the Care Plan more frequently. This must be considered each time there is a significant change to the Care Plan or if the child / young person has been reported missing or is at risk / a victim of contextual safeguarding concerns whilst in our care.
2.2 For some of our children timescales for reviews are slightly different:
- Children who have a change in carer:
- The Our Children's Review will be held within 20 working days of the date that the child moved.
- Children made subject to placement order:
- The Our Children's Review will be held within 3 months of the making of the Placement Order and thereafter at least once every 6 months;
- If the child is not placed 9 months after the granting of the Placement Order, the review must consider whether the plan remains appropriate and other options for achieving permanency must be considered.
The sequence of reviews then takes place as if this is a new care episode: i.e. within 20 working days, 3 months and then at least 6 monthly. These reviews continue until an Adoption Order is granted.
3. Chairing of Reviews
Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO's) will chair reviews. They are located within the Safeguarding Quality and Review Service.
The IRO's responsibilities are outlined in Section 7, 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. Our Children's Reviews
4.1 Planning for the review meeting
The Care Plan for each individual child must specify how the authority proposes to respond to the full range of the child's needs, taking into account their individual views, wishes and concerns. The Our Children Review process will need to monitor the progress of the plan and to make decisions to amend the plan as necessary in the light of changed knowledge and circumstances. The review must set clear timescales and allocate responsibilities for achieving the plan's objectives.
(IRO Handbook March 2010).
Once the child has their allocated IRO, the IRO will liaise with the social worker and child to gather the following information needed to arrange the Our Children's Review Meeting. The IRO will have met with the child prior to the Review Meeting to discuss the review and obtain the wishes of the child of how they want their review to take place:
- Ask the child about who they would like to be present at their review;
- Discuss age appropriate ways to participate in the review during visits;
- Invite older children to chair their own reviews, with support and advice from the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO);
- Manage the meeting so that people can contribute at different times in the meeting to keep the numbers down, and ensure the meeting is not too daunting for the child;
- Try to make sure that the review meeting is not simply a professionals' discussion where the child sits and listens. Rather, find a way for that professional discussion to take place elsewhere so that the review meeting explores options and changes with the child, age appropriately, and with parents where appropriate;
- Avoid meeting in a formal boardroom setting and support children and young people to undertake themed review meetings of their choice;
- Help children to use other methods to share their stories, for example drawings, letters, scrapbooks, audio or video recordings, and other media;
- Where English is not the child's first language, or the child has complex communication needs because of a disability, make use of translation arrangements and specialist communication equipment/systems to ensure that children can participate fully in their reviews;
- Planning for reviews also needs to take account of other aspects of diversity and identity (including different faith, culture, ethnicity and sexuality);
- While the child's involvement in reviews is essential many of the above points also apply to parents or other family members who have a contribution to make at reviews. This is particularly the case where a child is in voluntary care (Section 20) and the parents are the senior partners in the decision making process;
- In spite of every effort some children and young people may still not want to participate. In these circumstances it is essential to look at other ways whereby their views can be included such as agreeing for someone else that they trust to share their views and wishes about issues being discussed;
- Look at opportunities to use other forms of communication that do not require the child to attend e.g. using DVDs, video clips (including mobile phone), telephone calls or emails;
- The child doesn't have to be in the room to be involved.
The invitations for the Our children's review will be sent out 2 weeks prior to the review.
Our Child will receive a letter from their IRO with details of the meeting that has been agreed and information about the meeting explaining that their social worker will support them to share their views before the review meeting with the IRO.
3 days before the Review meeting the IRO will review all of the relevant information to the review including but not restricted to:
- Report from the social worker - The social worker and team manager must ensure that the plan is co-produced with the child and consider the child's Care Plan prior to the first and all subsequent our children reviews. It is not the function of the review to rewrite the child's Care Plan, but to review the updated plan. In the unusual event that there are no changes to the Care Plan it should reflect that the need to update it has been considered;
- Health report/ health assessment;
- Personal Education plan;
- Any letters, pictures, videos and consultation forms from the child;
- Consultation documents from parents, carers and other relevant adults;
- Any assessments completed;
- Children's file.
The IRO will then spend dedicated time reviewing the information available forming a view on the following:
- The appropriateness of the Care Plan for the child and ensuring it meets their needs;
- The quality of the reports.
It is expected that the IRO would have a conversation with the Social Worker as part of the preparation for the Our Children's Review.
The IRO will record a note on the child's file outlining that they have undertaken preparation for the review and any actions that have arisen from their preparation.
4.2 The Our Children's Review
The child is central in determining who they wish to be part of their review. There may be circumstances where a review is undertaken as a series of meetings based upon the child's wishes. The IRO will record the rational for this on the child's file but will ensure that all relevant professionals and parents are consulted and their information recorded as part of the review process.
The review process should consider the following:
- The effect of any change in the child's circumstances since the last review;
- Whether decisions taken at the last review have been successfully implemented and if not why not;
- The legal status of the child and whether it remains appropriate – for example, where the child is Looked After under section 20 of the 1989 Act, whether this status provides the basis for legal security for the child so that proper plans can be made to provide them with secure attachments that will meet their needs through to adulthood;
- Whether the child's plan includes a plan for permanence within viable timescales that are meaningful for the child – this must include plans for permanency from the second review onwards;
- The arrangements for family time in relation to the parents, siblings and other family members or significant others, whether these take into account the child's current wishes and feelings and whether any changes are needed to these arrangements;
- Whether the placement is meeting the child's needs – this should include consideration of the attachment between the child and those who are caring for them, 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 to become necessary before the next review;
- 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 PEP);
- The leisure activities in which the child is engaging and whether these are meeting the child's needs and current 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 to become necessary before the next review, in order to ensure that the child's health needs are met and not neglected.
4.3 2nd Review and Permanence
The purpose of care planning is to prevent 'drift,' to reduce the number of potential alternative living arrangement changes for Our Children, and to focus work with the child and the family. Statutory guidance requires that a clear plan for permanence is agreed by the second review of the Care Plan (i.e. within 4 months of the child becoming Looked After) which can include long term plans for children to be returned to the care of their birth family, or extended family members, or placement outside of their family. The 2nd Our Children's Review Meeting will consider all of the above however there will be an expectation that a plan of permanence (legal, physical emotional) is considered by the IRO.
In addition, as part of permanence planning, review decisions must include timescales for the completion of:
- Life story work;
- Later life letter;
- Post adoption/special guardianship plan.
4.4 Adjourning/ cancelling of Our Children reviews
Careful consideration must be given to taking such action, and the views of the child, carer and where appropriate the parents must be sought before any decision is made. The IRO will want to think of the effects on the child of delaying a meeting for which they have been prepared and will need to weigh up the benefits between proceeding with the meeting on limited information and the delay in decision making as a result of adjournment. Where a decision to adjourn a review would mean that it would fall out of statutory timescales, then the IRO must discuss this in advance with their Service Manager and the Service Manager for the child's social worker.
Any decision taken to adjourn the Our Children's Review will be recorded on a case note on the child's file outlining the decision that has been made and how the impact on the child has been considered.
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.
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.
5. 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.
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 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.
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 3 working days before an Initial Review and 5 working days before a subsequent review:
- Review of Arrangement Report;
- Care Plan or Pathway Plan;
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 bring to the review the following documents for the IRO:
- All completed consultation documents (the social worker is responsible for sending these to the child, carers and family members as appropriate);
- Health Care Plan;
- Personal Education Plan;
- 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.
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/updated, if relevant.
The social worker should also ensure that the child's Placement Plan 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.
6. 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.
7. Independent Reviewing Officer's Responsibilities
The IRO's primary focus is to quality assure the care planning and review process for each child and to ensure that his/her current wishes and feelings are given full consideration. The IRO has a crucial role in ensuring that the Local Authority fulfils its responsibilities as a corporate parent for all the children it looks after.
7.1 IRO relationship building with Our Children
IROs in Blackpool are the champions for Our Children, promoting and advocating Our Children's views and that decisions are made with Our Children in their best interests. In order to fulfil this role the IRO must be able to build a relationship with the child or young person. There are a number of ways in which the IRO will do this and the expectations are outlined within this section.
Visits to Our Children
The purpose of visiting children by IROs is to:
- Develop a trusting relationship with the child;
- Listen to Our Children to gain an understanding of their views and lived experience through discussion and observation;
- Work with Our Children to support them with preparing and planning for Our Children's reviews and/ or other meetings;
- Work with the child to understand the role of the IRO, the Our Children's review and to answer any questions;
- Agree any actions that they can take for the child based on what has been discussed.
Frequency of visits
The frequency of visits outlined below is the minimum expected standards of practice. All children (0 – 18) will be visited by their IRO. IROs are able to determine with children and carers as appropriate, when they may want to undertake more visits dependent upon the needs and circumstances of the children. Dependent on the age and needs of the child, the IRO will endeavour to arrange the visit directly with the child or young person in the first instance.
The IRO visit to the children does not replace the statutory visits undertaken by Social Workers and has a specific purpose.
When the child comes into Our Care, the IRO will visit them within their home environment (foster care, residential, secure accommodation) prior to the first Our Children's review. This is a separate visit and should not be part of the visit to undertake the Our Children's review. The IRO will agree with the child/ young people (where possible) an appropriate time and date. During the visit the IRO will share with the child/ young person their contact card containing their direct telephone number and email address. The IRO will actively encourage Our Child to contact them as needed. The IRO will also share all of the information available about their review meeting.
The IRO will visit and spend time with Our Child prior to every Our Children's review (3 and then 6 months). The practical arrangements of the visits and time spent with Our Children should be based on their wishes and feelings as to where they want to spend time with their IRO.
If Our Child moves to live within another home the IRO will visit them prior to the Our Children's Review meeting.
It is expected that Our Children will make contact with their IROs outside of the visits and Our Children's reviews and IROs will respond as necessary.
Recording of visits
All visits undertaken will be recorded on the child's record on Mosaic under the case note heading IRO visit and should detail the discussions held during the meeting, including the views of Our Child as well as any actions that were agreed by the IRO. There should be particular focus of the impact the visit or actions has had, or is intended to have on the child lived experience.
The recording of the case note should be within 2 working days of the visit and no more than 5 working days.
There should be follow up case notes recorded as needed, regarding any outcomes of the actions agreed within the visit if this needs to be addressed before the review.
Any contact that is made or received with Our Child should be recorded within case notes on the child's files.
It is also the IRO responsibility to focus on conflict resolution - see Section 14, Conflict Resolution.
8. The Role of the 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 Our Children's Review, there is a requirement to focus on the Permanence Plan, to ensure it provides permanence for the child within a timescale which is realistic, achievable and meets the child's needs.
If it is considered 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.
At the third Our Children's Review there will be a need for a Twin Track/Parallel Plan to be made where a Permanence Plan has not been achieved. For example where a plan for rehabilitation of the child has not been achieved, the Review should seek to establish whether the lack of progress is as a result of drift or whether there are valid child-centred reasons, properly recorded and endorsed by the social worker's manager. No further rehabilitation plan should be recommended unless there are exceptional reasons justifying such a plan or where further assessment is specifically directed by the Court. In this case, the Parallel Plan must include the active pursuit of an alternative placement for the child.
All subsequent Reviews should review the progress and validity of the Permanence 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  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 14, 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.
9. Our Children's Reviews Concerning Children in Long Term Foster Homes
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 home 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. This decision must be agreed with the line manager for the IRO.
10. Our Children's Reviews on Children who are the Subject of Child Protection Plans
Where a child who is Looked After remains the subject of a Child Protection Plan, there should be a single planning and reviewing process, led by the IRO, leading to the development of a single plan.
Consideration should be given to the IRO chairing the Child Protection Conference where a child who is Looked After remains subject to a Child Protection Plan. Where that is not possible, it will be expected that the IRO will attend the Child Protection Review Conference.
At the Our Children's Review, when reviewing the child protection aspects of the plan, should consider whether the criteria continue to be met for the child to remain the subject of a Child Protection Plan.
Consideration must be given to ensuring that the multi-agency contribution to the review of the Child Protection Plan is addressed within the review of the Care Plan.
11. Recording of Our Children's 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 Review Officer to all participants within 5 working days of the meeting. This should also be sent to the designated senior manager who will consider the decisions made at the review - see Section 12, Review Decisions.
The full written record of the review will be completed 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 Safeguarding Quality and Review Service will send copies out to all relevant parties who have provided their full name and address on the attendance sheet 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.
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 family time / contact only.
12. Review Decisions
A designated senior member of staff, normally the Social Worker's Team Manager should consider the decisions made at each Our Children's Review Meeting within 5 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 senior member of staff disagrees with any of the decisions within that initial 5 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 14, Conflict Resolution.
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 our 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 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. This information is then coordinated by the Safeguarding Quality and Review Service and sent on a monthly basis 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 Safeguarding Quality and Review Service Manager.
14. Conflict Resolution
Introduction and Background
This guidance outlines Blackpool's Issues Resolution procedure. This is to be used when Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO's)/Child Protection chairs (CP chairs) have a concern about a child.
There are a number of ways in which issues may be identified through the roles and responsibilities. The Issues Resolution Process should promote the principles of Blackpool Families Rock. Through every stage of the Issues Resolution process we will be working with Children's Social Care frontline teams and partners agencies to achieve improved lived experiences for children in Blackpool.
Values and Principles:
- All Issues Resolutions will focus on and evidence the impact for the individual child/young person;
- All Issues resolutions will be written with respect and through a restorative approach;
- Relationship based practice is central to our approach;
- Issues resolutions will always be aimed to be resolved informally first.
Themes form Issues Resolutions will be reviewed monthly. Equally good practice that impacts on improved outcomes for children/young people need to be recognised, celebrated, and shared to and built upon, what is working well.
Concerns about children may arise through a number of activities undertaken by the CP chair/ IRO including but not limited to:
- Following a child/young person's Our Children's Review/Child protection conference.
Monitoring and Quality assurance activity between reviews and conferences. To be an effective IR/CP Chair, there will be times whereby issues need to be raised with a professional/service area (single/multiple agency). This role and responsibility is set out in working together to safeguard children (2018) and the IRO Handbook (2015). One of the key functions of an Independent Reviewing Officer is to oversee the needs and rights of every young person in the care of the Local Authority.
It is expected that professional judgement is used on each child/young person's needs to exercise effective informal and formal Issues resolution and issues to be resolved in a proportionate, timely and purposeful way. In practice, it is not possible within the guidance to provide an exhaustive list of every 'issue' relating to practice and procedures that would require the intervention of an IRO/CP chair under the Issues Resolution Process. This will be informed by the impact that an issue has on the child / young person. For guidance overarching reason categories for the Issues resolution being initiated, include:
- Statutory requirements not met;
- Local Authority, procedures not adhered to;
- Independent reviewing officer's recommendations from our children's reviews/ plans from Child Protection conferences, not progressing;
- Placement Considerations;
- Drift in care planning and delay in decision making and progress of plans;
- Other areas identified where the child/young person's needs are not met and the identified impact on the child/young person.
If there are immediate safeguarding concerns for the child/young person the SQR Service Manager should contact Social Care Service Manager within 24 hrs of concern being identified.
Issues Resolution Process
The child/young person's IRO/CP chair is personally responsible for activating and seeking resolution of the issues raised, even if it's not in accordance with the young person's wishes and feelings but rather, in accordance with the best interest and welfare of the child/young person, including their human rights. The CP chair/ IRO should always aim to work with children and families.
Issues Resolutions will be considered at the weekly Issues Resolution clinic and should include good practice Issues Resolution. This will be discussed within the Issues Resolution clinic to consider the stage the concern meets. This is to support the IRO/CP Chair and ensure consistency in approaches across the Safeguarding Quality and Review Service.
It is expected that the IRO/ CP chair will discuss all Issues Resolutions at any stage, either by phone or in person with the allocated Social Worker.
All Issues resolutions will be recorded on the child's record by the IRO/ CP chair, using the case note heading that reflects the level in which the issues resolution is being raised (see attached Issues resolution flowchart).
The Issues resolution case note will include the following:
- Child/young person's name;
- Stage of Issues resolution;
- Reason for the Issues Resolution;
- Impact on the child/young person (Consider the lived experience of the child/young person, their views and the long term impact);
- Details of the discussions with the Social Worker;
- Actions requested. All responses/ resolutions will be recorded within the Issues resolution resolved casenote;
- Response (relevant managers response);
- Outcome (date resolved/Stage of Issues resolution).
Informal Issues Resolution
Informal Issues Resolution will be initiated by the IRO/CP chair and discussed with the Social Worker/ Team Manager. This will then be recorded on the child/young person's record by the IRO/CP Chair, using the case note/Informal Issues resolution type. The IRO will agree timescales for resolution with the social worker.
Informal Issues Resolution will be noted at the weekly Issues Resolution clinic, and discussed if the Issues resolution isn't resolved.
On the occasions that informal has not achieved resolution and formal Issues resolution is to progress the IRO/CP Chair records that the Formal Issue Resolution is to be discussed at the next Weekly Issues Resolution Meeting.
Formal Issues Resolution
Stage 1 – Formal Issues resolution – IRO to Team Manager
Actions to the team manager in circumstances when the IRO/ CP Chair is unable to resolve the issue they have informally raised, requesting a response within 5 working days. The IRO/ CP chair will discuss this with the Team Manager and will then record the issues resolution on case note/Stage 1 Formal Issues resolution type.
The IRO/ CP chair will then track and monitor the progress of the resolution.
Stage 2 – Formal Issues Resolution – IRO/CP Safeguarding Team manager to Team Manager/Service Manager
Actions made by IRO/CP chair that haven't been resolved are escalated to the Team Manager/Service Manager from the relevant teams, for a response within 5 working days IRO/CP Safeguarding Team manager will record on the child/young person's record using the case note/Stage 2 Formal Issues resolution type. If the actions are agreed and timescales, the IRO or CP Chair will monitor the progress of the actions.
Stage 3 – Formal Issues Resolution – Service Manager SQR to Service Manager/Head of Service
Actions made by the IRO/CP Chair that haven't been resolved are escalated to the Service Manager/Head of service from the relevant teams, for a response within 5 working days.
SQR Service Manager will record on the child/young person's record using the case note/Stage 2 Formal Issues resolution type. If the actions are agreed and timescales, the IRO or CP Chair will monitor the progress of the actions.
Stage 4 – Formal Issues Resolution – Head of Service SQR to Assistant Director/Director of Children's services
Actions made by the IRO/CP Chair, that haven't been resolved at the earlier stages of the IR process, will be escalated by SQR Head of Service to the Assistant Director/Director of Children's services, for a response within 5 working days. SQR Head of Service will record on the child/young person's record using the case note/Stage 4 Formal Issues resolution type. If the actions are agreed and timescales, the IRO or CP Chair will monitor the progress of the actions.
If matter is not resolved and relates to a Child in our Care, Head of Service SQR Service to inform IRO. IRO to seek Independent Legal Advice and consider notification to CAFCASS, supported by Service Manager and Head of Service SQR.
The Issues resolution will only be signed off when the formal outcome has been resolved, the IRO/CP Chair will monitor the progress and completion of the actions set.
Updates on progress of Issues resolution will be reviewed at the weekly Issues resolution clinic and the outcome of an Issues resolution will be recorded on the child/young person's record in case notes, outcome of Issues resolution type, by the IRO/CP Chair.
Process for IRO's for children/young people in our care
At any stage if the issues resolution is not resolved the IRO is able to seek Independent Legal Advice and consider notification to CAFCASS, supported by Service Manager and Head of Service SQR.
IRO has authority to refer a child/young person to CAFCASS if the IRO considers it appropriate to do so, in consultation with SQR Service manager, in circumstances when the above stages are exhausted or if the matter is of sufficient urgency, the IRO can make such a referral. The IRO in making this decision has access to management advice and support and in additional to independent legal advice where necessary. It is noted however that such a referral should be regarded as an exceptional step and will be used if, despite escalation, an acceptable and appropriate resolution of the issue identified has not been achieved.