My name is Jacki, and I am the Chair of the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers (NAIRO). We are keen to help young people to get the most out of their reviews, and to make sure your voice is properly heard. This letter is to help you understand what your IRO should do to help you, and to point you to other sources of help if you need it.
Your IRO should:
Talk to you alone, about what is happening in your life and what you think about it.
Find out if you are happy about where you are living and who you are living with.
Speak to you about whether you are happy with arrangements for seeing your family and communicating with them.
Ask you about any worries you may have about school or college.
Talk to the Council and your social worker about the plans they have for you, and ask you if you are happy about these plans.
You have many rights and entitlements in law that the IRO should make sure you know about and that you are getting.
The IRO should make sure your review meeting is held at a place and time that is good for you, and that you feel comfortable with. They should ask you who you want to come to your meeting and should respect your wishes. They should run the meeting in a way that you feel happy with, and make sure that your voice is properly heard in the meeting.
YOU ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE MEETING – IT IS YOUR MEETING!
Sometimes the IRO will suggest that you might like to run the meeting yourself, and will help you and support you in doing so.
If the IRO thinks that the plans the Council is making are wrong, or that you are not getting what you are entitled to, they should make a fuss! That is their job!
IROs have a lot of power to challenge the Council and the social workers, and make them listen to you. They can help take any problems back to court if that is what is needed to make sure things are done properly for you.
If you would like more advice about your review and what should happen you can download the Handbook for Young People prepared by the Office of the Children’s Rights Director.
Another good source of advice is the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. They have a lot of power to help young people in care with their problems.
There is also the Children’s Legal Centre who can give you good independent legal advice if you need it.
The National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers wants to do everything it can to help IROs to do their job better, and give you all the help that they can and should give you. We would love to hear your views and your stories about how IROs have helped you, or where you think they haven’t done their job properly. This should assist us in knowing how to help IROs do their job better. Please contact us.
I do hope we hear from you.
With very best wishes
Jacki Rothwell, Chair of NAIRO