Agenda item

Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) annual report

Karen Simmons, Interim RAD manager/Practice Lead will present the Independent Reviewing officer (IRO) annual report to the Board.


The Chair introduced the Interim RAD Manager/Practice Lead who was in attendance to provide an overview of the Independent reviewing officer 9IRO) annual report.


The key areas discussed were as follows:


·         The report covered the period from the 1st April 2021 to 31st March 2022. 

·         The report was a statutory requirement under Section 7, paragraph 11 of the IRO Handbook, which sets out that the manager of the IRO Service must provide an annual report on the delivery of the IRO Service which can then be scrutinised by members of the Corporate Parenting Board. It provides information on the Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) and their contribution to improving outcomes for children in care and young people leaving care.

·         In Middlesbrough, the IROs have a dual role and therefore this report includes consideration of those children subject to a Child Protection Plan.

In summary the purpose of an IRO is to:-

  • Monitor the activity of the local authority as a corporate parent in ensuring that care plans have given proper consideration and weight to the child’s wishes and feelings and that, where appropriate, the child fully understands
  • Offer a safeguard to prevent any ‘drift’ in care planning for looked after children and the delivery of services to them;
  • Promote the child’s voice




Children in our Care


OFSTED’s Monitoring Visit of March 2022 regarding planning and decision making for children in care reported that:-

  • There is an improved oversight of independent reviewing officers.  Mid-point reviews between the IRO and the social worker keep plans on track.  Children know their IRO and are visited by them before their review.  This is ensuring that children’s views are known and are informing care planning.


·         This view was confirmed by our own oversight of IRO practice through performance and quality assurance activity which indicates improvements in practice for IROs over 2021/22.

·         There were improvements in the timeliness of Reviews for children in our care with 82% in time compared to 65% in 2020/21.

·         There was an increase in children and young people being seen and spoken to prior to their review by their IRO (68% of reviews, a 25% increase on 2020/21)

·         There was cumulative evidence through increased visits and midway reviews of a 52% increase of the IRO footprint on the child’s record compared with 2020/21

·         Use of IRO challenge through the Issues Resolution Process was sustained over 2021/22 with 80 challenges made to make sure plans for children in our care meet their needs.


Child Protection

Over 2021/22, there were improvements in the timescales for child protection conferences with 83% of initial child protection conference in time compared to 65% in 2020/21 and 78% of child protection plans being reviewed in time compared to 69% in 2020/21

The evidence of IRO oversight including use of midway reviews, on case records improved by 20% since last year.

IROs raised 70 issues regarding children subject to child protection plans to make sure they received an appropriate response to their needs.


Areas for Improvement

The IRO improvement journey will remain closely linked to the Children’s Services’ Improvement Plan and their priorities for 2022/23 are to make sure that practice across the Team is consistently of a high standard.

This includes:-  

  • Improve compliance with key performance indicators Increase child participation in meetings about them, including use of advocacy
  • Strengthen the IRO engagement with children through visits and regular contact between reviews
  • Gather the views of parents and carers regarding their experience of conferences and reviews
  • Embedded use of Mid-way reviews to  drive planning for children
  • increased continuous oversight for those children without stability and permanence
  • Strengthen the impact of IRO Challenge and demonstrate IROs have high aspirations for Middlesbrough children
  • IROs contribute to the overall practice priorities of Children’s Services by monitoring quality of performance and informing learning and development.


The officer was thanked for her presentation.


AGREED- that the information be noted.

Supporting documents: