Remove IROs from councils, urge half of Community Care readers

Source: Alex Turner on July 15, 2022 in Community Care

Social workers overwhelmingly reject care review recommendation to scrap IROs, but most say role should be reformed, with greatest support for making it independent of local authorities.

However, the National IRO Managers Partnership, which represents both IROs and their managers, voiced opposition to removing the role from councils.

Role ‘should be strengthened within local authorities’

Its leadership network said: “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.”

Leadership network member Paul Nash said that placing IROs beyond local authority control could “bring with it more of a sense of an ‘outsider’ relationship”, and would confuse the IROs’ scrutiny role with the function of a regulator.

“To work alongside and be part of the solution for children and young people, IROs would be best placed within, not outside of local authority children’s service,” he added.  “Working within the local authority, independent reviewing officers use their expertise to shape better planning and outcomes for children, but we recognise we have more to do.”

Charmayne Hartye and Amanda Ankers, co-chairs of NIROMP’s IRO advisory group, added: “IROs are often the most consistent professionals in a child’s life. Their role enables them to take a step back from the day-to-day work and provide an independent lens on how the child’s needs are being met and will be met.

“By IROs being placed within the local authority, they support individual and collective social work practice through their quality assurance function and support the development of social workers.”

NIROMP chair Sharon Martin said that IROs’ position in local authorities also enabled them to “understand, interpret and support the implementation of new policy, changes in expectations, structural change, and even changes in context in the local area”.

She added: “Change brings uncertainty on what it may mean for practice. IROs, in their oversight and leadership role, are in a pivotal position to scrutinise and support transformational change.”

Read full piece at source: Remove IROs from councils, urge half of Community Care readers

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

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