Came across another great blog by suesspiciousminds. This one involves judicial criticism of the IRO and Looked After Child review process.
Link to the judgement: Re X (Discharge of Care Order) 2015
The IRO is intended to be a robust mechanism designed to hold a Local Authority (LA) to account in the management of a child’s plan. Regrettably in this case, the IRO did not challenge the LA or set remedial timescales to address inaction and delay in achieving essential aspects of the child’s care plan. The IRO did not escalate matters as necessary to prevent drift and delay.
Areas of criticism involved a lack of challenge by the IRO in respect of X’s need for:
- Permanency, security and stability
- Therapeutic help and support including life story work
- Continued links with birth family
This case also showed marginalisation of the birth family. The mother had not been invited to any of X’s Looked After Child reviews or kept informed of his general progress. The LA had not told the mother the name of the social worker and the IRO made no challenge.
The statutory guidance is clear; that where a matter is outside the control of a Local Authority, but is impacting on the ability of that Authority to meet the child’s needs the IRO should escalate the issue to make sure the child’s welfare needs are met.
Criticism is made of the IRO for failing to robustly manage the Local Authority’s implementation of the care plan or pursue the requirement for permanence. To this end the IRO failed to bring independent, robust and effective overview of the Local Authority management of X’s plan.
The IRO in this case accepted the statutory requirements of the Looked After review process and that, as IRO, he was responsible for setting any remedial timescales where necessary.
IRO Handbook: paras 7.23 – 7.27 on ‘Drift & Delay’
IRO Handbook Chapter 6: Dispute Resolution and Complaints