local authority responsibilities
The IRO Handbook sets out a number of duties that Local Authorities (LA) must perform to facilitate an effective IRO service. The following is a summary of those responsibilities.
These arrangements were a requirement as of April 1st 2011. This schedule can be used as a checklist, or as the basis of an action plan, to ensure that these statutory requirements are in place.
- The local authority should appoint an individual as the IRO within 5 working days of the child becoming looked after.
- The local authority must have a system in place to provide an advocacy service for each looked after child if they request it.
- The local authority should have an interpretation and translation system in place to offer to looked after children and their families where English is not their first language.
- There should be communication between the social worker and the IRO at least 15 working days before the child’s looked after review meeting.
- Reports including the care plan, the Personal Education Plan (PEP) and health plan must be available to the IRO at least 3 days before the review meeting.
- The child should be consulted about review arrangements.
- The local authority must provide sufficient administrative support to facilitate an efficient and effective review process.
- The social worker must inform the IRO of significant changes in the circumstances of the child.
- Local authorities should consider the advantages of IROs maintaining an overview of pathway plans for ‘relevant’ children (i.e. those who are no longer looked after)
- The local authority should agree and publish a protocol with adult services in respect of transition arrangements for children with a disability.
- The local authority must put in place a formal system (a dispute resolution process) for the IRO to raise concerns.
- The local authority must ensure that IROs have sufficient time and support to raise concerns effectively.
- The local authority complaints manager must advise the IRO of any complaint brought by a child for whom the IRO is responsible.
- Each local authority should have a system in place that provides its IROs with independent legal advice.
- Local authorities must ensure that partner agencies are clear about the role of the IRO.
- The local authority must provide management support for IROs.
- The local authority needs to ensure that the size of caseloads ensures that each IRO is able to comply with primary legislation.
- The local authority should ensure that IROs receive appropriate training on a regular basis.
- The local authority should be responsible for the production of an annual report.
- When a child’s case is in family proceedings: a) IRO service should provide to the LA legal department contact details for the IRO; b) the legal department for the local authority should advise the court of the name of the IRO and of their contact details.
- When a child’s case is in family proceedings the legal department of the LA should have a system in place to: a) Pass on details of the guardian to the IRO; b) provide copies of all relevant court documents to the IRO within 5 working days of receipt of them.
- When a child’s case is in family proceedings, the LA should have a system in place to ensure that the legal department of the authority and the children’s guardian receive a copy of each review record.
- When a child’s case is in family proceedings, the LA should ensure that the record of each review meeting is submitted to the court.
- When a child’s case is in family proceedings and prior to the Issues Resolution Hearing, the LA should inform the court of any dispute between the LA and the IRO about the plan.