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2.8 Looked After Reviews


Regulation 5 – Engaging with the Wider System to Ensure Each Child’s Needs are Met

The Care Planning Standard


The arranging of Looked After Reviews, sometimes referred to as 'Statutory Reviews', is the responsibility of the child’s social worker, usually in collaboration with the Independent Reviewing Officer. However, home's staff play a crucial role in the process.

This chapter explains the purpose of the Looked After Review and summarises the responsibilities of the social worker, Independent Reviewing Officer and what steps should be taken by the home.


Section 2, Frequency and Arranging Looked After Reviews was updated in January 2018 to reflect the circumstances of which Reviews should be brought forward by the Independent Reviewing Officer.


  1. Purpose of Looked After Reviews
  2. Frequency and Arranging Looked After Reviews
  3. Role of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)
  4. The Home’s Arrangements for Looked After Reviews

1. Purpose of Looked After Reviews

The purpose of the review is to examine the work undertaken with the child, ensure that adequate plans are in place to safeguard and promote the child's welfare and make recommendations or representations on behalf of the child.

It is not the role of the Looked After Review to make decisions about children, that is the responsibility of the social worker.

However, where the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) (or another person, including the child) is concerned about delay in implementation of the Care Plan or that recommendations have not been incorporated appropriately, he or she may take this up with the relevant manager or provider. To this end the child may require assistance from an Advocate or Independent Visitor (see Advocacy and Independent Visitors Procedure). In exceptional circumstances, a review date may be brought forward.

2. Frequency and Arranging Looked After Reviews

Looked After Reviews must take place:

  • Before any significant change is made to the child’s Care Plan, unless that is not reasonably practicable;
  • Before a decision is taken to cease looking after a child;
  • For children who are looked after as a result of a secure remand;
  • Before an Eligible Young Person moves into semi-independent accommodation, a Looked After Review must be held and evaluate the quality of the assessment of the young person’s readiness and preparation to move.

In the light of these requirements (above), Home’s Managers should consider consulting the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) for any child where the Placing Authority is considering changing a child’s placement on an unplanned basis; or must ensure the IRO is consulted where the Home’s Manager is considering ceasing, ending or changing the placement.

Under normal circumstances Looked After Reviews should be convened at the following intervals:

  • An Initial Looked After Review should be conducted within 20 days of the child being Looked After;
  • The 2nd Looked After Review should be conducted within three months of an Initial Looked After Review;
  • Subsequent Looked After Review should be conducted not more than six months after any previous review.

These are maximum timescales, Looked After Reviews can be convened sooner if consideration is being given to ending or changing the child’s placement or the urgency of the case determines they should be e.g. the child’s social worker assesses that the child’s welfare is not being adequately safeguarded and promoted.

Looked After Reviews should be brought forward by the Independent Reviewing Officer if they are notified by the child’s social worker or residential worker of any significant change or event in the child’s life. This could include:

  • 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;
  • The Home, parents or area authority are concerned that the child is at risk of harm;
  • The child so requests, unless the Independent Reviewing Officer considers that the review is not justified;
  • 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.

Except in urgent circumstances, any change of placement, should only take place following a statutory review of their care plan chaired by their Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO).

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.

Residential staff should ensure the social worker for the child is fully informed and aware of any of the above issues, or any other matter that reflects a significant change or impact upon the child, so that the IRO can review and consider whether an earlier review should be convened.

Staff should make available in the home, information in an appropriate form which enables children to contact their placing authority to call for a review of their care plan if they have concerns about their safety or welfare.

In the case of children under 5, it is good practice to review the Care Plan more frequently and, if practicable, every 3 months.

Looked After Reviews are normally chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer.

Arrangements, including the setting of dates and invitations, are normally made by the Reviewing Officer in consultation with the social worker. The Manager of the home should take all reasonable steps to be consulted too. Invitations must be sent out at least 10 days before the Review.

The social worker is normally responsible for informing, consulting and preparing the child at least 20 days before the review; but home's staff should assist as far as they can in this process and should ensure that children are properly informed and prepared. To this end, the child must be encouraged to contribute to any report prepared by the home. If the child wishes, s/he should be assisted in preparing his/her own contribution.

Staff should be mindful that the child may wish to or may benefit from being supported by an Advocate or, if appointed, an Independent Visitor (see Advocacy and Independent Visitors Procedure).

In time for the review, or beforehand if required, the home should arrange for an up to date Placement Plan to be available demonstrating what arrangements exist to meet the child's needs. The home should also produce a report of the work undertaken since the child's placement or the last Looked After Review.

The Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) must meet the Child before his/her first Looked After Review

The Review will consider the extent to which the aims and objectives of the Care Plan and associated Personal Education Plan (PEP) and, if relevant, Pathway Plan have been achieved. At the second and subsequent Reviews, the review must consider whether there is a suitable Permanence Plan in place.

It will also be necessary for the child's Placement Plan to be reviewed to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the Care and associated plans.

After the Review the social worker is responsible for updating and circulating the Care Plan, Personal Education Plan (PEP) and, if appropriate, the Pathway Plan. The Manager of the home is responsible for updating circulating the child's Placement Plan.

The Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) normally prepares and circulates a record of decisions and recommendations within 5 working days, a full record within 15 working days and a full record including decisions within 20 working days of the Review.

Within 10 working days, the social worker must update the Care Plan and re-circulate it.

If the IRO has concerns about the child’s case e.g. that the Care Plan is not being properly progressed, s/he has a duty to report this to CAFCASS

The Home's Manager also plays a role in making sure that recommendations are implemented, by the home and other agencies. If there are concerns that recommendations are not being implemented, the Home's Manager should discuss the concerns with the Independent Reviewing Officer and/or the Line Manager for the Home.

The home should take notes of the meeting and ensure the action points are recorded to prevent delay in supporting the child/young person. The Registered Person should evidence what they have done to achieve engagement, including any actions to taken to escalate concerns.

3. Role of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

Under the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010, the role of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) has substantially changed, in essence, the IRO has a responsibility to monitor the child’s case in between Looked After Reviews.

For example:

  • The IRO should be notified within 2 working days of a child becoming Looked After;
  • Children should be told who their IRO is and how to make contact with him/her;
  • The IRO must be consulted before a child is placed outside the area where the child normally lives;
  • The IRO should be notified and consulted if a child persistently absents him/herself or has been missing from the home;
  • Children have a right to contact their IRO if they are concerned about their placement or Care Plan.

Home’s manager should be aware of these wider responsibilities and should ensure that children are informed of their right to consult or notify the IRO; and Home’s Managers should also consult the IRO if they are concerned about the child’s placement.

4. The Home’s Arrangements for Looked After Reviews

To follow.