NIROMP responds to results of Community Care poll ‘What should happen to the IRO role?’

Over 80% of Community Care readers vote to keep the IRO role with 49% voting for IROs to be employed outside local authorities.

The National Independent Reviewing Officer Managers Partnership is committed to improving the practice that impacts on the lives of children and families. Critical analyses provided by the independent children’s social care review, has brought welcome learning but also a challenge from IRO’s, the reviews proposals for reform must be judged in the context, circumstances, and political climate in which the research was conducted and written.

By Sharon Martin on July 7th, 2022 

As, NIROMP Chair, I recognise that:

“IROs have a crucial role to play in making sure all professionals recognise and listen to children’s voices and uphold their rights and entitlements. Reflecting on these principles we welcome recognition of the value the independent reviewing officer brings to children in care and care leavers.

“NIROMP is supportive of and has always welcomed the freedom to try different and new ways of doing things.

“We have avoided any binary position, particularly related to the Independent Reviewing Officers role. To be clear though, NIROMP does not support the dilution of any policies or legislation that would see an erosion or removal of any child’s rights or the abolition of the IRO role “If there is genuine commitment to raising standards for children in local authority care, then the role of the Independent Reviewing Officer, a role that

was specifically introduced in 2000 as part of the Children Act 1989 as a safeguard for children in care, should be supported, strengthened and developed”.

“The problems facing children’s social care in England will not be solved by the removal of the independent reviewing officer role for children in care, nor the IRO role improved through situating them outside of the Local Authority.

“We should not allow continued debates about the value and position of the independent reviewing officer function to distract from the more pressing problems arising from austerity and the cost-of-living crisis.

The NIROMP Leadership Network:

“Our message is strongly focused on the importance of relational, strengths-based working within our local authority and community networks and collaboratively across government departments.

“NIROMP’s leadership will continue to tackle, collectively, across the nine government area regions of England, to mobilise the wraparound support for children and families to enable them to thrive, not just survive.

“It is our collective view that reforms can and should be made within the existing legislative infrastructure that underpins our combined duties and responsibilities for the universal safeguarding and wellbeing of every child.

“The independent reviewing officer role for children in care is valued by children and families and should remain within the Local Authority.

“If there is genuine commitment to raising standards for children in local authority care, then the role of the IRO, a role that was specifically introduced as a safeguard for children in care, should be supported, strengthened, and developed. The concern still is that children in care should be afforded equality and continuity, regardless of where they are placed in the country and irrespective of their race, ethnicity or where they have come from.

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2 thoughts on “NIROMP responds to results of Community Care poll ‘What should happen to the IRO role?’

  1. Hi, I am an IRO and have been in this role for nearly 10 years and I believe the role has a very important part in a child’s journey through care. Sometimes we are the only consistent professional in their lives. This allows us to ensure that their story is not lost and new professionals are given a clear picture of what it is really like for the young person in care and advocate for them. Having an IRO means that you can expect that they will listen and act on the things that are really important for that young person in care. Without that oversight my worry is that there will be less consideration for a child’s views and/or parent views.

    I think personally that we should remain within the organisation but have a completely separate line management to the social work teams including the director (someone who maybe could oversee all IRO’s across England.) the reason I think this would work better than being outside the organisation is that outside agencies tend to lose sight of the whole purpose of social work and tend to be less regulated.


  2. It is my view that the role does need to be maintained but that there is a need for it to be refocused. I am now an ISW but was an IRO from 2018 -2021, including being IRO Manager.
    Sine being in my independent role I have spoken with young people who do not know who their IRO is and only see them for reviews. One one level this makes me proud of the team I lead. Young people did get 6 monthly visits were spoken with away from meetings and even saw IROS at events they attended. But case lodes were high , it was a huge effort to do what we did.
    Added to which we often encountered attempts to set our agendas by senior managers in Children’s services. This was despite being “independent “.
    I have also noted the position of advocates who often seem thin on the ground under paid, and undervalued.
    In my view the role of IRO should have a strong assertive advocacy role, have smaller case lodes( which mean more IROs) and be organised outside of councils on a regional basis. The team I lead saw itself as champions for children that should be the role going forward.


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