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UK Government guidance issued in 2010 states that when children were consulted they were clear what they wanted from their IRO:
"When they meet the child they should do this one to one so that the child can talk freely. They must check with both the child, and other people working with the child, on whether the child is OK and happy where they are living and with their care plans. They must regularly ask each child whether they are happy with how things are being done for them, and keep checking what is happening for each child against that child's plans and the decisions made at their reviews."
As well as chairing meetings the RO also has responsibility for monitoring the child's case on an ongoing basis.
Who can be an RO?
The role of the RO is almost unique within Social Care in that whilst they are employed by the Department they are charged with monitoring the Department and, if necessary, taking appropriate action.
An RO must be a registered, experienced social worker. The role of RO is seen as being at least equivalent to a social work team manager.
Crucial to the role is that an RO must be able to talk with children whilst being able to work with senior managers 'offering a critical perspective and appropriate challenge'.
What is the RO looking for?
The RO will need to be satisfied that the care plan for the child is based on comprehensive assessment and analysis.
If there are changes to be considered at the review, the RO should have advance warning of this so that they can ensure that they are satisfied that the changes are in the best interests of the child.
Ultimately the child is their main priority - they will look for the plan to meet the needs of the child, irrespective of the barriers that there may be (e.g. services not being provided through lack of funding).
Statutory requirements that the RO needs to address at each review ...
The RO should ensure the following are addressed
- the effect of any change in the child's circumstances since the last review:
- whether decisions taken at the last review have been carried out and if not why not:
- the legal status of the child and whether it remains appropriate:
- whether the child's plan includes a plan for permanence within viable timescales that are meaningful for the child:
- the arrangements for contact and whether these take into account the child's current wishes and feelings and whether any changes are needed:
- whether the placement is meeting the child's needs:
- the child's educational needs, progress and development (this should include consideration of the current PEP):
- the leisure activities available to the child:
- the report of the most recent assessment of the child's health:
Responsibilities of an RO in a review
As well as the aspects identified above, the RO needs to ensure that:
- the process is child and family centred, and the child's views are heard
- the child is aware of their care plan and consulted about it and any proposed changes
- the meeting is manageable for the child, and the people there are people who the child knows and wants present
- all present understand the purpose of the review and are able to say what their views are
- that those who are not present are able to give their views
An RO can adjourn a meeting for up to 20 working days, but only once. The basis for this would be to allow consideration of any areas where further information has been asked for or given. When deciding whether to adjourn the RO must consider what the impact on the child would be and, where appropriate, get the child's views.
If a review is adjourned then any decisions made prior to the adjournment are not considered to have been agreed until the meeting had been completed.
Case managing teams responsibilities
Case manager's must:
- notify the RO if there are any significant changes (e.g. placement breakdown, arrangements not happening)
- being the date of the next review forward if the need for substantial changes to the care plan arise
The overall aim of the period of care or accommodation set out in the care plan can only be changed through a planning meeting or during legal proceedings.
Other aspects of the plan may be changed in response to changes in the child or young person's needs or circumstances. However, any changes should be discussed with people with parental responsibility and other relevant parties before they are made.
A copy of the changed document should be sent to all parties and made available to the RO before each and at each review.
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- Youth Offending
- Children with Disabilities