View LCP Procedures View LCP Procedures

3.3.2 Looked After Reviews

RELATED CHAPTERS

Appointment and Role of Independent Reviewing Officers Procedure

Delegated Authority Procedure

N.B. This chapter should be read in conjunction with Protocol between Independent Reviewing Officers and Managers and IRO Dispute Resolution Process and Flowchart

See also Participation of Children in Looked After Reviews Procedure and Parental Participation at Looked After Reviews Procedure.

N.B. Different provisions apply to children who acquire Looked After status as a result of a remand to local authority accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation. In relation to those children, please see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People on Remand.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

DfE, Children Act 1989 Guidance and Regulations - Volume 2: Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (2015)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended in September 2018, to reflect the current the terminology and structure of the Department. Also to note that the Team Manager should review the CLA Review record or Pathway Plan review record and sign it off with comments within 5 working days of receipt; the QAU Service Support officer is responsible for distribution of the LAC review record to the professional network and the allocated social worker is responsible for sharing the review records and decisions with the child and their parents. (See Section 12, Recording of Looked After Reviews).


Contents

  1. The Purpose of Looked After Reviews
  2. Frequency of Looked After Reviews
  3. Chairing of Looked After Reviews
  4. Convening and Coordinating Looked After Reviews
  5. Invitations
  6. Role of Social Worker
  7. Contributions and Reports
  8. Advocates and Supporters
  9. Chair's Responsibilities
  10. Role of the Looked After Review in Achieving Permanence for the Child
  11. Looked After Reviews Concerning Children in Long Term Foster Placements
  12. Recording of Looked After Reviews
  13. Review Decisions
  14. Postponement of Looked After Reviews

    Appendix 1: Quality Standards for Looked After Reviews


1. Purpose of Looked After Reviews 

The purpose of a Looked After Review is to:

  • Ensure that adequate plans are in place to safeguard and promote the overall welfare of Looked After Children in the most effective way and achieve Permanence for them within a timescale that meets their needs;
  • Ensure plans are being progressed effectively;
  • Ensure appropriate consultation and communication takes place;
  • Ensure the needs of children looked after as a result of a secure remand are met;
  • Ensure that an Eligible Young Person moving into semi-independent accommodation is ready and prepared to move; and
  • Make decisions, as necessary, for amendments to those plans to reflect any change in circumstances.

It is important that action is taken on recommendations made at Reviews and responsibilities for actions are clearly defined.

The key plans that should be considered at a Looked After Review are Care Plans, Placement Plans, Health Care Plans, Personal Education Plans, and Pathway Plans.

A Looked After Review must take place before any significant change is made to the child's Care Plan, unless that is not reasonably practicable, including a decision to cease looking after a child.

Looked After Reviews should normally be conducted at a meeting although this may not be required in respect of a child who has been in a designated Long-term Foster Placement for over twelve months (see Section 11, Looked After Reviews Concerning Children in Long Term Foster Placements).


2. Frequency of Looked After Reviews 

Looked After Reviews should be convened at the following intervals:

  • An Initial Looked After Review should be conducted within 28 days of the child being Looked After;
  • The Second Looked After Review should be conducted within three months (91 days) of an Initial Looked After Review;
  • Subsequent Looked After Reviews should be conducted not more than six months (183 days) after any previous Review.

The Independent Reviewing Officer may agree to convene a Looked After Review at any time where there has been a change in circumstances or where requested by the child, parent(s) or any other significant person.

In particular, Looked After Reviews should be brought forward by an IRO where the circumstances of an event has a significant impact upon the child’s care plan, as suggested in the following sorts of circumstances:

  • A proposed change of care plan for example arising at short notice in the course of proceedings following directions from the court;
  • Where agreed decisions from the review are not carried out within the specified timescale;
  • Major change to the contact arrangements;
  • Changes of allocated social worker;
  • Any safeguarding concerns involving the child, which may lead to enquiries being made under Section 47 of the 1989 Act (‘child protection enquiries’) and outcomes of child protection conferences, or other meetings that are not attended by the IRO;
  • Complaints from or on behalf of the child, parent or carer;
  • Unexpected changes in the child’s placement provision which may significantly impact on placement stability or safeguarding arrangements;
  • Significant changes in birth family circumstances for example births, marriages or deaths which may have a particular impact on the child;
  • If the child is charged with any offence leading to referral to youth offending services, pending criminal proceedings and any convictions or sentences as a result of such proceedings;
  • If the child is excluded from school;
  • If the child has run away or is missing from an approved placement;
  • Significant health, medical events, diagnoses, illnesses, hospitalisations, or serious accidents; and panel decisions in relation to permanency.

DfE Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations volume 2: care planning, placement and case review

This is not an exhaustive list and the IRO may judge that other events are significant and require an earlier review. The parents and child should also be consulted about the need for an additional review.


3. Chairing of Looked After Reviews 

The Quality Assurance Unit will designate Independent Reviewing Officers to chair all Looked After Reviews.


4. Convening and Coordinating Looked After Reviews 

Where a child becomes looked after their new legal status will be recorded on Mosaic by the Placement team.

The child's social worker will liaise with the LAC administrator in the Quality Assurance Unit as soon as a child is looked after to ensure that an initial review is arranged in good time.

An Independent Reviewing Officer will be appointed for the child and the Quality Assurance Unit will arrange, in consultation with the child's social worker, a date for the Initial Looked After Review within 28 days of the date when the child first became Looked After.

Dates for subsequent Looked After Reviews will be set at the conclusion of each Review. If the arranged date needs to be changed for any reason, including where a change in circumstances indicates the need for an earlier Review date, the social worker should notify and arrange this directly with the designated Independent Reviewing Officer.

Should the child cease to be Looked After before the Review date, the social worker will notify the designated Independent Reviewing Officer in order that the arrangement can be cancelled.

Arrangements, including invitations, distribution of consultation forms, arranging the venue and collating contributions will be the responsibility of the social worker.


5. Invitations

See also Participation of Children in Looked After Reviews Procedure and Parental Participation at Looked After Reviews Procedure.

It is normal practice for the child to attend the Review, irrespective of age, and for the Review to be held in the child's placement.

For all Reviews, the social worker will consult with the child (for second and subsequent reviews, this consultation must take place at least 20 working days before the meeting) about who should come to the Review, and where it should be held. Whenever possible the parent/carer should be included in these discussions too. Where children are unable to contribute to the decisions, for example because of their young age, the parents' views should be sought.

The social worker will draw up an invitation list of the relevant people to attend the Review in consultation with the child and others as above, as well as with the Independent Reviewing Officer.

The following people should normally be considered:

  • The child, parents, carers and any significant people or specialists involved in the child's case;
  • The most appropriate teacher at the child's school (usually the Designated Teacher for Looked After Children);
  • An Independent Visitor, if involved;
  • An Advocate for the child if one is already involved or required;
  • Any other person thought to be relevant e.g. current carer, health care professional, GP, a representative from the Local Authority in whose area it is proposed that the child will be placed;
  • The officer with lead responsibility for implementing the authority's duty to promote the educational achievement of its' looked after children.

Consideration should be given to inviting the Children’s Guardian where one has been appointed.

The primary focus must be on who the child wishes to be present and the Review should be kept as small as possible. It may be appropriate to request written contributions from agencies rather than invite them to attend.

Children and parents should also be informed that they may meet the Independent Reviewing Officer separately if they wish, or bring an Advocate, supporter or interpreter to the Review. See Section 8, Advocates and Supporters.

A decision not to invite a child or parent(s) to a Review should only be made in consultation with the Independent Reviewing Officer prior to the Review. The decision should be recorded, together with reasons, on the Review of Arrangements Form.

The social worker is responsible for ensuring participants are invited preferably in writing, informing them of the date, venue and purpose of the Review.

For the second and subsequent Reviews, invitations should be sent at least 10 working days before the meeting.

Where an invited person cannot attend, the Independent Reviewing Officer may agree that a delegate attend instead.

There may be exceptional circumstances where the child’s social worker, in consultation with the IRO decides that the attendance of the carer at all or part of the review meeting will not be appropriate or practicable. Where this is the case, a written explanation of the reasons should be given and other arrangements made for the carer to contribute to the review process. Details of the reasons why a carer is excluded and a record of their input should be placed on the child’s case record.

6. Role of the Social Worker

See also Participation of Children in Looked After Reviews Procedure and Parental Participation at Looked After Reviews Procedure.

Before arrangements are agreed, the child's social worker must discuss the purpose of the Review with the child, parents and carers and consult them about a suitable date, venue and invitations.

The social worker must ensure that the child's case records are up to date on Mosaic.

The child and parent(s) should be encouraged and supported by the social worker to prepare for the Review, in writing or other ways if they wish, for example by seeing the Chair separately. The Independent Reviewing Officer should agree with the social worker how this will be achieved.

If the child and/or parent wish to prepare a written contribution, a LAC Consultation Paper is designed for the purpose but the contribution can be made in any form.

The social worker is responsible for drafting/updating the Care Plan (including the Permanence Plan) or Pathway Plan, Placement Plan/Placement Information Record, Health Care Plan and Personal Education Plan.

The Care Plan or Pathway Plan for over 16’s should be updated and completed by the social worker on Mosaic at least 7 days prior to the Looked After Review meeting.

The social worker should also ensure that arrangements are in place to conduct a Placement Planning Review, if relevant.


7. Contributions and Reports

Two weeks before the Review, the child's social worker must ensure that LAC Consultation papers are distributed as appropriate and, after completion, are available for the Review.

Where the child is placed in a foster home or in residential care, the foster carer or a representative of the home should be asked to contribute a report in writing; a LAC Consultation Paper is designed for the purpose but a separate report may be prepared.

The social worker must ensure that all relevant LAC documentation is up to date on the electronic social care file within 7 days of the Review date. This will include the following:

  1. The updated Care Plan or Pathway Plan for the child;

  2. The LAC Consultation documents for all interested parties, where available.

The Care Plan or Pathway Plan should be shared with the child and parents in advance of the meeting.

The child's Independent Reviewing Officer must read all the relevant LAC documentation prior to the Review taking place.

The child's social worker will agree a time to meet the Independent Reviewing Officer before the Review. (This can be on the day of the Review if both agree.) See Protocol between Independent Reviewing Officers and Managers.


8. Advocates and Supporters

The social worker and Independent Reviewing Officer should consider prior to the Review whether either the child or parent(s) would benefit from the presence of an Advocate or supporter and if so, the social worker should ensure the necessary arrangements are made.

A supporter may be either an advocate on behalf of the child/parent(s) or a person with specialist skills or knowledge. (See Advocacy and Independent Visitors Procedure.)

Special needs, for example those arising from disability, should always be considered and appropriate assistance arranged where relevant.

It may be necessary to make arrangements for an interpreter to attend and the social worker should do so if necessary. 

Any request by the child or parent(s) for their legal adviser to attend as their supporter should be notified to the Independent Reviewing Officer prior to the Review and if agreement is given, arrangements made where appropriate for the attendance at the Review of a local authority legal adviser. 


9. Chair's Responsibilities 

See also Appointment and Role of Independent Reviewing Officers Procedure.

An Independent Reviewing Officer will chair all Looked After Reviews.

The Chair is responsible for ensuring that all relevant people, including the child and parents, understand the purpose of the Review and have been given appropriate opportunities to contribute and express their views.

The IRO should meet the child before the first Looked After Review and arrange to meet the child as appropriate in advance of subsequent Looked After Reviews.

The Chair must ensure that the child is informed at every Review of the Comments/Complaints Procedure and given a leaflet containing the necessary information. The Chair must also ensure that the child is aware that he or she can appoint an Advocate. (See Advocacy and Independent Visitors Procedure.)

The IRO must also be satisfied that the wishes and feelings of the child’s parents, any person who is not a parent but who has Parental Responsibility and the current carer (foster carer or registered person in respect of a children’s home) have been taken into account as part of the review process.

With regard to the child's education, a checklist for the Independent Reviewing Officer is included in Education of Looked After Children Guidance.

Any differences of opinion should be recorded in the LAC review or Pathway Plan review record. These should be referred to the social worker's line manager for possible resolution. See Protocol between Independent Reviewing Officers and Managers and IRO Dispute Resolution Process and Flowchart. Where participants' views are not followed, an explanation of the reasons why will be provided by the Chair or the social worker.

If the parent(s) or the child brings an Advocate or supporter, the Chair will need to explain his or her role, ensuring that the advocate/supporter understands that he/she may clarify information but may not cross-examine any contributor.

Where the ‘supporter’ is a legal representative then the IRO should note The Law Society guidance ‘Attendance of Solicitors at Local Authority Children Act Meetings’ and related 'Code of Conduct (2011)'.

All solicitors attending these meetings should be aware of the local policies and procedures in respect of Children Act Meetings.

The agenda for each Review will be agreed at the beginning of the meeting and each participant will be invited to contribute their own items to the agenda and have the opportunity to contribute to the discussion.

Each Review will set a date for the next Review.

It will be necessary for the Independent Reviewing Officer to ensure that everyone is clear about who is responsible for action and the timescales agreed for completion, and that the following are considered and accounted for during the Review:

  1. The effect of any change in the child's circumstances since the last review, any change made to the Care Plan/Pathway Plan, whether decisions taken at the last review have been successfully implemented and if not the reasons;
  2. Whether any change should be sought in the child's legal status;
  3. Whether there is a plan for permanence;
  4. Arrangements for contact/whether there is any need for changes to the arrangements in order to promote contact between the child and parents/other Connected Persons;
  5. Whether the placement continues to be the most appropriate available, whether any change to the placement agreement or any other aspect of the arrangements is likely to become necessary before the next review;
  6. Whether the placement safeguards and promotes the child’s welfare, and whether any safeguarding concerns have been raised - in particular whether the child is going missing or is at risk due to criminality or Child sexual exploitation;
  7. The child's educational needs, progress and development and whether any change is likely to become necessary or desirable before the next review, including consideration of his/her most recent assessment of progress and development; whether the arrangements are meeting the child's educational needs; whether the child has a Personal Education Plan (PEP) and whether its content provides a clear framework for promoting educational achievement;
  8. The child's leisure interests and activities and whether the arrangements are meeting his/her needs;
  9. The child's health report, and whether any change in health care arrangements is likely to be necessary or desirable before the next review; whether the content of the Health Plan provides a clear framework for promoting the child's health;
  10. Whether the arrangements are meeting the child's health needs;
  11. Whether the child's needs related to identity are being met, life story work is being undertaken and whether any change is required having regard to the child's religious persuasion, racial origin and cultural background;
  12. Whether the arrangements for advice, support and assistance continue to be appropriate and understood by the child;
  13. Whether any arrangements need to be made for the time when the child will no longer be looked after;
  14. The child's wishes and feelings and the views of the IRO about any aspect of the case and in particular about any changes made since the last review or proposed to be made to the Care Plan; whether the plan fulfils the duty to safeguard and promote the child's welfare and whether it would be in the child's interests for an Independent Visitor to be appointed;
  15. Where the child is placed with parents before an assessment is completed, the frequency of the social worker's visits;
  16. Whether the delegation of authority to take decisions about a child’s care is or continues to be appropriate and in the child’s best interests;
  17. Other matters which may arise should also be considered with due regard to the circumstances of the child and the placement.


10. Role of the Looked After Review in Achieving Permanence for the Child

The Independent Reviewing Officer must check that the child's Care Plan incorporates a Permanence Plan with measurable milestones and a Contingency Plan should the preferred plans not materialise. 

See also Appointment and Role of Independent Reviewing Officers Procedure

At the second Looked After Review, there is a requirement to focus on the requirement for the Care Plan to provide a Permanence Plan for the child within a timescale that is realistic, achievable and meets the child's needs. As part of the Permanence Plan, a parallel Contingency Plan should be drawn up if it is considered that the chosen avenue to permanence is not viable, the Independent Reviewing Officer should ensure that the social worker convenes a planning meeting as a matter of urgency to consider the most appropriate permanent alternative.

At any Review where a Permanence Plan has not been achieved, the Review should seek to establish whether the lack of progress is as a result of drift or whether there are valid child-centred reasons, properly recorded and endorsed by the social worker's manager.


11. Looked After Reviews Concerning Children in Long Term Foster Placements

  • The March 2015 Statutory Guidance “Permanence, long-term foster placements and ceasing to look after a child” sets out that where a child is placed in a designated long-term foster placement and has been in this placement for more than a year consideration should be given to whether it is necessary to hold a meeting as part of each review;
  • The guidance requires that the social worker should consult the IRO and the child (where appropriate to age and understanding) in reaching a decision on whether to hold a meeting. Where it is agreed that a meeting will not be held as part of every review a meeting should be held at least once a year. The factors leading to a decision to hold review meetings on a less frequent basis must be recorded in the child’s Care Plan;
  • Where a decision is taken that the review process will not include a meeting the IRO must ensure that full consultation with all relevant individuals, including the child, has taken place to inform the review of the child’s case.


12. Recording of Looked After Reviews 

The Independent Reviewing Officer is responsible for completing the CLA Review Record or the Pathway Plan review record on the Mosaic system. This should be done within 15 working days of the review.

The Team Manager will review the CLA Review record or Pathway Plan review record and sign it off with comments within 5 working days of receipt.

The QAU Service Support officer is responsible for distribution of the LAC review record to the professional network.

The allocated social worker is responsible for sharing the review records and decisions with the child and their parents.

The full record should contain an accurate and comprehensive record of the meeting, or meetings, which constituted the review and of the views of all those who attended or were consulted as part of the review process. The record should also reflect the review process for a designated long term foster placement where a meeting did not take place.

The child's social worker must also ensure that the following have been revised after the Review as appropriate and copies forwarded to the carers of the child concerned:


13. Review Decisions

See Protocol between Independent Reviewing Officers and Managers.

The Team Manager should consider the decisions made at each Looked After Review within five working days of receiving them and advise the IRO and all those who attended the review if they are unable to agree them.

If no response is received the decisions should be considered agreed by the Local Authority and should be implemented within the timescales set out in them.

If the Team Manager disagrees with any of the decisions within that initial five working day period, see the IRO Dispute Resolution Process and Flowchart.


14. Postponement of Looked After Reviews

  1. Review dates cannot be changed from the agreed date, except in exceptional circumstances, and where it can also be ensured that the review will be completed within the time-scales set out in Section 2, Frequency of Looked After Reviews above;
  2. If a social worker wishes to change a LAC review date they should first discuss with the allocated IRO if an alternative date is possible within the statutory time-scales. If the requested time-change falls outside of the statutory time-scales then the IRO would need to consult the Quality Assurance Manager to get agreement for the change;
  3. Where it is not possible to re-schedule a Review within the statutory time-scales, an Executive Review may be held on the original agreed date undertaken by the Independent Reviewing Officer;
  4. Executive Review: An Executive Review should be held with as many of the key members as possible but the minimum is the child's social worker or line manager and the Independent Reviewing Officer;

    The child and parents should also be present at the Executive Review where possible.

    It may be necessary to hold the Executive Review in a different place to that where the child is living, for example when the carer is ill.

    An Executive Review as a minimum should review the child's Care Plan and agree key actions required, including whether any changes are necessary to ensure that the child is safeguarded, contact arrangements are reviewed, drift is avoided and goals are being worked to with priority and realistic timescales. The child's allocated Independent Reviewing Officer should look at the child's file as part of the Executive Review.

    The dates of key actions such as medicals, dental checks, education and health plans will be recorded.

    Issues relating to Identity and Implementation, and the views of the child, carers and parents through the consultation process should be considered but the Independent Reviewing Officer has discretion as to the best way to achieve a comprehensive Review considering the principles of independent scrutiny, consultation and participation. This may include a Follow-Up Meeting or process. The Independent Reviewing Officer has discretion to set the terms of this meeting and/or process, and the necessary attendance requirements. Any Follow-Up Meeting must take place within one month of the Executive Review.


Appendix 1: Quality Standards for Looked After Reviews

Click here to view Appendix 1: Quality Standards for Looked After Reviews.

End