Agenda item

Agenda item

Independent Reviewing Officers' Annual Report 2017 - 2018


To consider the Independent Reviewing Officers’ (IRO) Annual Report April 2017-2018.





The Panel considered a report of the Director of Children’s Services on the Independent Reviewing Officers’ Annual Report for 2017-18.  Members noted that the Independent Reviewing Officers’ (IRO’s) Manager had a statutory responsibility for the production of an Annual Report for scrutiny by members of the Corporate Parenting Panel.  A copy of the Annual Report was attached at Appendix A.


The Practice Manager, Conference and Review Service, introduced the Annual Report and highlighted matters of particular interest.


Points and comments included:


1.    The format of the report is nationally agreed through all local authorities for the Corporate Parenting Panel and is a published document.


2.    Page 47 paragraph 8.7 of the report referred to the grading of practice being consistently high.  In terms of the national context and expectations against peers, the understanding is that Central Bedfordshire Council uses different scales to grade practice and that not every local authority uses grading or quality assurance forms. Central Bedfordshire is in the top quartile for achievement for its Looked After Children.


3.    The Service has had an additional member of staff for a period of time as the number of Looked After Children had increased alongside the child protection number.  However this post was currently under review.


4.    In response to concerns raised about 60% of the sample group of children and young people feeling safe at school, the Practice Manager, Conference and Review Service explained this was a theme from a dip sample the previous year but was not an issue being raised through the Mind of My Own (MOMO) app used by children and young people to provide feedback on their wishes and feelings.  The issue of feeling safe at school would have been shared with the social worker allocated to the young person to be discussed and addressed at an individual meeting with the young person.


5.    It was a statutory requirement for a Looked After Child to be asked if they would like an Independent Visitor or Social Worker. A piece of work needed to be undertaken around explaining the concept and role of an Advocate in terms of helping to make sure that the voice of the child/young person was heard when decisions about their life were being made.


6.    The Head of Professional Standards and Principle Social Worker explained than an Advocate solely reported on the views of the young person whereas the Social Worker/Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) listening to the views of the young person and took these views into account when evaluating the needs of the young person.  The Advocacy Service is located within Children’s Services. It is separate from the Social Work and is offered independently on behalf of Central Bedfordshire Council Service. The young person and the Advocacy service agree who the right person to provide support would be.


7.    The timing of Looked After Children reviews is specified in regulation. The first review has to be held within 20 working days of the child/young person becoming looked after and the second review within 3 months. Subsequent reviews are at intervals of no more than 6 months. Mid-way review meetings had just been introduced in Central Bedfordshire. The purpose of these reviews was to assess cases and to speak to Social Workers to ensure that all of the tasks were being achieved and were on time and there was no potential for delay. There was the ability for reviews to take place sooner if there were any concerns, a significant change of circumstances or change of care plan.


8.    A member of the Panel referred to paragraph 5.24 of the report which advised that since the introduction of the MOMO app, 162 young people had contributed to the Bedfordshire Safeguarding Children - Voice of the Child Survey of which 91 (56%) were girls and 71 (44%) were boys. It was felt that it would be more beneficial for the Panel to be advised of the size of the cohort as a percentage rather than as data.


9.    The Director of Children’s Services explained that in response to the Ofsted recommendation about the effectiveness of plans being updated and assurance of progression, an action plan had subsequently been implemented with a measure against each action and how the actions were being achieved.


10.The Practice Manager Conference and Review Service explained that following a key area highlighted in the Ofsted report of being able to achieve and demonstrate permanency for young people, the definition of permanency had subsequently reviewed and a permanency tracking meeting implemented to monitor the stage of a child on their journey.


11.The Practice Manager Conference and Review Service advised that the quality assurance element of the organisation helped to ensure the independence of the IRO from the Social Worker.  Good practice models around supervision and the peer practice challenge insured that services were being held to account and checks and balances were in place to ensure that practices were continually reviewed and outcomes achieved.




the activity of the Conference and Review Service in relation to case management and review of Looked After Children during 2017-18 as set out within the Independent Reviewing Officers’ Annual Report.






Supporting documents: