All young people who are looked after by their local authority are allocated an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). They have an IRO whether they are the subject of a care order granted by the court, or accommodated with their parents’ agreement (what is known as a ‘Section 20’ arrangement). Although they work for the same local authority as your social work team IROs are based in a separate department from the teams, and this is how they bring independence in their work with you.
Your IRO is a qualified social worker who is also an experienced manager and is responsible for ensuring that your views are heard, and that the plans your social work team has for your care move forwards, without drifting. They also check that everyone who works with you has completed all the tasks that have been agreed to keep you safe and well.
All looked after young people have Looked After Child (LAC) reviews. These are regular meetings involving you and the people who are closely involved in your care, and where your progress is discussed. The first meeting will happen within four weeks of you becoming looked after; the second one will be three months after; reviews following this take place every six months. They will look at different aspects of your life and development which includes your health, education and / or training and employment, contact with your family and plans for your future care.
In Sutton we have introduced a new way of doing reviews, called All About Me Reviews, which will provide young people with a more positive experience of their reviews through the following:
Young people are fully involved in decisions about where the review will take place and who will attend
Young people choosing how they want to share their views with their IRO before the review, and how they want the review to run. This can include creative ideas such as a video blog, writing a PowerPoint presentation, doing some direct work with their IRO, chairing their own review
Carers/keyworkers being well prepared for the review by thinking about the young person’s achievements to be celebrated, and how any challenges can be addressed in a helpful way
Reports being written to young people instead of about them; carers/keyworkers and IRO writing a letter to the young person
Your views on all aspects of your life are very important and we encourage you to be as fully involved in your reviews as you can.
Your IRO monitors what is happening with you between your reviews by completing a ‘midpoint update’ with your social worker, which is where they check that all the decisions from your review are being completed in the agreed times. They also do this by being in regular contact with your social worker, who will tell your IRO if anything significant has happened – for example, there is a change in your care plan or to the arrangements for contact with your family members. Your IRO may contact you between reviews to find out how you are, and you will have their telephone number so you can also contact them. You can also contact your IRO and social worker through the (Mind of My Own) App. Click here to find out more about the App and how you can access it.
If for any reason you are unsure who your IRO is or are unable to contact them you can call their team manager, Jo Mitchell, on 020 8770-4567.