Facilitating an effective IRO Service – 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.

  1. The local authority should appoint an individual as the IRO within 5 working days of the child becoming looked after.
  2. The local authority must have a system in place to provide an advocacy service for each looked after child if they request it.
  3. 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.
  4. There should be communication between the social worker and the IRO at least 15 working days before the child’s looked after review meeting.
  5. 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.
  6. The child should be consulted about review arrangements.
  7. The local authority must provide sufficient administrative support to facilitate an efficient and effective review process.
  8. The social worker must inform the IRO of significant changes in the circumstances of the child.
  9. 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)
  10. The local authority should agree and publish a protocol with adult services in respect of transition arrangements for children with a disability.
  11. The local authority must put in place a formal system (a dispute resolution process) for the IRO to raise concerns.
  12. The local authority must ensure that IROs have sufficient time and support to raise concerns effectively.
  13. The local authority complaints manager must advise the IRO of any complaint brought by a child for whom the IRO is responsible.
  14. Each local authority should have a system in place that provides its IROs with independent legal advice.
  15. Local authorities must ensure that partner agencies are clear about the role of the IRO.
  16. The local authority must provide management support for IROs.
  17. The local authority needs to ensure that the size of caseloads ensures that each IRO is able to comply with primary legislation.
  18. The local authority should ensure that IROs receive appropriate training on a regular basis.
  19. The local authority should be responsible for the production of an annual report.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. 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.