Independent Reviewing Officers (IRO) are social workers, who are also experienced social work managers whose duty is to ensure the care plans for children in care are legally compliant and in the child’s best interest. All local authorities have a duty to appoint an IRO to every child in care or child who is subject to a Child Protection plan. IROs are required to oversee the child’s care plan and ensure everyone contributing to the care plan fulfils their legal obligations to the child.
The work of IROs and Child Protection Conference chairs is governed by the IRO Handbook
Children and young people have a simpler version: Young Person’s guide to the IRO handbook
What Are IROs supposed to do for children?
- They must chair every meeting held to review or amend the child’s care plan: the local authority is not permitted to change a child’s care plan without the authorisation of an IRO.
- Make sure children’s views are recorded, answered and responded to
- Ensure that plans are based on everyone’s best understanding of what that child needs (it’s called an assessment)
- Make sure that each child know how they can get hold of an advocate or someone who listens to you and talks on your behalf
- Make sure children don’t stay in care longer than they need to and they either return to their family’s care, are cared for by someone close to them or are either placed with long term foster-carers, or are adopted
- Listen to children and see that they understand any changes to their care plan
- Ensure that children, particularly children with a disability who need to live away from home because they need specialist care or education, and whose care is shared with parents, get the best services available to meet their needs
- Make sure that the local authority is a good “corporate parent” to children in care, this means children in care get the same services as other children would and that their “corporate parent” does everything as well for them as a good parent would do for their own child at home.
- An IRO must be involved before any major decision is made about a child’s care plan and they must ensure the child’s views are heard and recorded