All young people who are looked after by their local authority are allocated an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). You will have an IRO whether you are subject to a care order granted by the court, or accommodated with your parents’ agreement (what is known as a ‘Section 20’ arrangement).
We are the team of IROs that work in Sutton:
Although we work for the same local authority as your social worker, we are based in a different department - Quality Assurance - so work separately from their team. This means we can be independent in our work with you.
We are all qualified social workers and have management experience. We are responsible for ensuring that your views are heard, and that the plans your social work team has for your care move forwards, without drifting. We make recommendations about how and when things should be done. We also check that everyone who works with you and cares for you has completed the tasks that have been agreed to keep you safe and well.
All looked after young people have Children Looked After (CLA) reviews and these are chaired by your IRO. These are regular meetings involving you and the people who are closely involved in your care. The first meeting will happen within four weeks of you becoming looked after; the second one will be three months after; reviews following this usually take place every six months but might happen more often. You should always know the date of your next review meeting.
As part of the review process we will look at different aspects of your life and development which includes your health, identity, education, training or employment, contact with your family and plans for your future care. We will also want to see that you are being helped to prepare for adulthood and you have support to develop independent living skills. We like to know about your progress and what you might need help with in all these areas.
In 2019, Sutton introduced the 'All About Me' process for CLA reviews. ‘All About Me’ is a process so may not just be a meeting. We look at key information before the meeting and may talk to people that work with you and care for you as well your family members outside of the meeting.
We want your review meeting to be a positive experience for you so it should not just be repeating information but instead thinking about what is happening for you. Your views are very important to us so we encourage you to be fully involved in your review meeting.
Your meeting should celebrate you, your ideas, what you have been up to and anything you have achieved - big or small! Everyone that comes should be ready to share in this at the meeting.
We should also talk about things that are not going well or that you or someone else thinks needs to change. We can talk about what might help and what to do next. You should be helped to say what you feel comfortable to talk about beforehand.
You should be prepared for your meeting - this is usually done by your Social Worker but might be your IRO, carer or someone else.
You should have a say in where your meeting takes place and who you want or don't want there.
You should decide in advance how you are going to share your views with your IRO and other people who are at your meeting. You may be happy just to speak but this could be doing a presentation, recording a video, anything you can think of really!
You can say how you want your meeting to run on the day. For example, you might want to go for a walk, set a challenge, share some food or chair the meeting with your IRO.
Before your review, your Social Worker writes a report with an update since your last review and confirms what the care plan is for you. This is written to you, not about you and you can read it before the meeting. Your IRO and other participants will read this too.
After your meeting, we write a summary report. Just like the Social Worker report this is written to you and you should get a copy. You should also get a letter from your IRO after every review.
In between your reviews we monitor what is happening for you and ask for an update from your social worker on all the decisions made at your review. Your social worker should also tell us when anything significant happens in your life. We may also contact you or your family members between reviews.
You should have your IRO’s telephone number and email address so you can contact them too. We really like to hear from you.
If you are not happy about something about your care or support, your IRO can help you to raise this. You are entitled to an advocate. Your IRO can explain what this is and help you decide if this would be good for you.
If for any reason you are not sure who your IRO is or are unable to contact them you can call the Lead IRO, Emma Coley, on 07710114405.