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Children in Local Authority care

Revised statutory guidance from the government for Local Authority's replaces the 2004 guidance, Independent Reviewing Officers Guidance; the Adoption and Children Act 2002.

If a child is the subject of an Interim or Final Care Order and is a Looked After Child by the Local Authority, then new guidance assists the care planning and reviewing arrangements for those children. In particular, much more emphasis and guidance has been given to the Independent Reviewing Officers role.

The statutory duties of the Independent Reviewing officer are to:-

  • Monitor the Local Authority performance of their functions in relation to the child's case

  • Participate in any review of the child's case

  • Ensure that any ascertained wishes and feelings of the child concerning the case are given due  consideration by the appropriate authority

  • Perform any other function which is prescribed in regulations

In discharging these duties, the independent reviewing officer has a number of specific responsibilities which include: -

  • promoting the voice of the child

  • ensuring that plans for looked after children are based on a detailed and informed assessment, are up to  date, effective and provide a real and genuine response to each child's needs

  • identifying any gaps in the assessment process or provision of service

  • making sure that the child understands how an advocate could help and his/her entitlement to one

  • offering a safeguard to prevent any "drift" in care planning for looked after children and the delivery of services to them

  • monitoring the activity of the responsible 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 the implications of any changes made to his/her care plan.

It is hoped that as a result of the statutory duties placement stabilities for a child in care will be a key part of ensuring that this is a positive experience for each child. Its aim is to ensure that each Looked After Child is offered the same opportunities of other children and they have individual support necessary to reach that potential. The Local Authority's responsibility for a child’s care must respond to any recommendations made by the Independent Reviewing Officer.

It is incumbent upon the Independent Reviewing Officer to have personal contact with all children in care and it is anticipated that the Independent Reviewing Officer will be well positioned to support the Local Authority's corporate parenting responsibilities meeting Looked After Children's needs in every respect.

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