Multiple failings, IRO and whistleblowing | Suesspiciousminds

Thank you to Sueesspiciousminds for his post of 10th December 2018 regards the matter of:

A & B (care orders and placement orders – failures) [2018] EWFC 72 (30 November 2018) http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWFC/HCJ/2018/72.html

 

The following extract is from Mr Justice Keehan’s judgement:

50.I am appalled at the manner in which and the serial occasions on which the social workers and their managers have failed these two young people. The fact that I have chosen in this judgment to focus on the role and actions of the various IRO’s should not be taken in any way to diminish the failures of the social workers and/or their mangers in this case. Rather the failings of the IROs has been so stark and grave that, in my judgment, it was appropriate to focus on the failings of the IROs and the IRO service in this case.

51.Once a court makes a care order it entrusts, as by statute it must, the future care of the child to the local authority. The essential safeguard the court and the public at large have that a local authority will be a good corporate parent is the function and role of the IRO. Any obstruction of an IRO performing their statutory role or any diminution in an IRO, or their manager, feeling empowered to do so, is a matter of the utmost consequence. For otherwise a looked after child is subject to the vagaries of social work practice and the local authority’s different pressures and priorities. The IRO is, or should be, the child’s protector or advocate. If the IRO is silenced or pressured not to act as the child’s interests demand and require, it is the child who will suffer – just as these children, A and B have suffered.

Conclusions

52.This local authority, as it has accepted, failed both young people in the errors made by its social workers and their managers over a very prolonged period of time.

53.The IROs failed them on a serious and serial basis.

54.I entirely accept and acknowledge that in these straitened financial times all local authorities are stretched. Furthermore I recognise that this local authority, like very many around the country, have difficulties recruiting and retaining social workers. As a consequence many social workers have to carry very heavy case loads, may not have sufficient experience to deal with the more complex cases and/or have limited time to work on a particular case.

55.These difficulties, however, do not begin to explain the wholesale failure of this local authority, in its role as a corporate parent to plan adequately or appropriately for the care of these children. I simply do not know or do not understand why the care plan was changed from adoption to long term fostering in 2009. The explanation given in B’s 2018 Care Plan is plainly false or, at best, inaccurate.

56.This means that neither A nor B can now be given a clear and cogent explanation of why they suffered such instability when in the care of this local authority. I find this to be profoundly regrettable.

57.The fact that the local authorities are under financial pressures, and there too few social workers who carry too many cases, increases the importance of the role performed by the IROs. When it is known deadlines may be missed, visits not undertaken, assessments not completed or other actions in furtherance of a child’s care plan not addressed, the IROs must take active steps to ensure a child’s welfare and future care is not disadvantaged by these omissions.

58.Whatever opposition or obstruction the IRO or Head of Service faced from a local authority, the IROs and their managers must remember that their first and foremost duty is to the children and

young people that they serve. If this is ignored or obstructed, it is only the children or young people, who are our future, who will be harmed.

59.The clear message must go out that IROs serve a vital and essential function to ensure that a child’s or a young person’s interests are met post the making of a care order or other orders. If those functions and roles are not exercised in a clear, robust and untrammelled fashion, the children or young people will suffer.

Read Sueesspiciousminds full piece at source: Multiple failings, IRO and whistleblowing

Related reading: BT & GT (Children : twins – adoption) [2018] EWFC 76 (29 November 2018)

NIROMP can provide support and advice to local authorities and IRO services in order to ensure   the effective independent oversight of the child’s case and to ensure that the child’s interests are protected throughout the care planning process. 

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