Looked After Reviews and Disruption Meetings


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

The Care Planning Standard


Arranging Looked After Reviews is the responsibility of the child's social worker, in collaboration with the Independent Reviewing Officer. However, staff in the Home 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 outlines the steps which should be taken by the Home.


Care and Placement Planning

Emergency Placements and Emergency Reviews


This chapter was updated in November 2022.


  1. Purpose of Looked After Reviews
  2. Frequency of Looked After Reviews
  3. Convening Looked After Reviews
  4. Purpose of the Review
  5. After the Review
  6. Role of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)
  7. Disruption Meetings
  8. The Home's Arrangements for Looked After Reviews

1. Purpose of Looked After Reviews

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.

The purpose of the Looked After Review is to:

  • Ensure that appropriate plans are in place to safeguard and promote the overall welfare of the Looked After child in the most effective way and to achieve permanence within a timescale that meets their needs;
  • To monitor the progress of these plans and ensure they are being progressed effectively;
  • To make decisions, as necessary, for amendments to these plans to reflect any change in knowledge and/or circumstances;
  • To ensure the needs of children looked after as a result of a secure remand are met;
  • To ensure that an Eligible Young Person moving into semi-independent accommodation is ready and prepared to move.

Looked After Reviews will be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer.

It is important that decisions taken at Looked After Reviews are implemented, to ensure this responsibility for actions following the review should be clearly defined.

The key plans that should be considered at a Looked After Review are:

  • Care Plan or Pathway Plan (where appropriate);
  • Permanence Plan;
  • Health Care Plan;
  • Personal Education Plan (PEP).

The review should also take account of the child's Placement Plan and any other plans or strategies (e.g. behaviour management strategy), ensuring that they are up to date, or that arrangements are in place to update them.

If children are not settling into the Home, leaders and managers should ensure that children’s plans are reviewed promptly with the placing authority and the family (where this is appropriate). They should consider the best steps to take next, including, for example, whether any additional support might be necessary to keep children safe. Leaders and managers must challenge effectively and take action when they are concerned that placing authorities are making decisions that are not in children’s best interests or when the statutory requirements for looked-after children are not met.

See also: Care and Placement Planning.

2. Frequency of Looked After Reviews

Usually, Looked After Reviews should be convened at the following intervals

  • An initial Looked After Review should be conducted within 20 working days of the child becoming Looked After;
  • The second Looked After Review should be conducted within 3 months of an Initial Looked After Review.

Subsequent Looked After Reviews should be conducted not more than 6 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 a Review is needed 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;
  • 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.

3. Convening Looked After Reviews

3.1 Arranging the first Review

As soon as a child becomes Looked After, the child's social worker must notify the Independent Review Unit by telephone and/or email.

This will trigger the appointment of an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) for the child. The Independent Review Unit will then arrange the date, time and venue of the child's first Looked After Review.

The venue will be agreed with the social worker and the allocated IRO - ideally the Review should take place in the placement.

3.2 Arranging second and subsequent Reviews

At the end of each Review the IRO will set the date, time and venue of the next meeting, taking account of what is convenient for participants.

Review dates cannot be rearranged unless there are exceptional circumstances and then only if the rearranged meeting can take place within statutory timescales. 

In the event of a key participant being ill or unable to attend the Review, the meeting will go ahead but the IRO may decide that the Review be adjourned to a new date when all participants can attend.

3.3 Invitations and the Child's Participation

Discussions will take place between the social worker and the child (subject to age and understanding) at least 20 working days before the Review to look at who the child would like to attend the meeting and where the meeting will be held.

Invitations to Reviews will be sent by the Independent Review Unit following consultation with the child's social worker and the IRO, and taking into account the child's wishes. Invitations will be sent out at least 10 working days before the meeting.

The following people should normally be invited:

  • The child. There is a presumption that the child will attend the Review. A child's disability must not be a bar to the child's attendance;
  • The parents and those with parental responsibility, carers and any significant people or specialists involved in the child's case;
  • The Key Worker/other representative from the Home;
  • The most appropriate teacher at the child's school (usually the Designated Teacher for looked after children);
  • A Personal Adviser, if the child is over the age of 16;
  • An Independent Visitor, if involved;
  • An interpreter (if required);
  • Any other person with a legitimate interest in the child e.g. health care professional, GP, a representative from the local authority in whose area it is proposed that the child will be placed; (Such attendance should always be discussed with the child before invitations are made and their views obtained);
  • The officer with lead responsibility for implementing the authority's duty to promote the educational achievement of its looked after children.

A balance must be struck between who the child wishes to be present and the need for information and input from the professionals and family members involved. Efforts should be made to keep the number present at the meeting as small as possible. It may be appropriate for information to be provided in writing or at a separate meeting where the contribution is strictly factual.

Children and parents should also be informed that they can arrange to see the IRO separately if they wish or bring a supporter or interpreter to the Review.

Where the child does not wish to attend the Review, the IRO must at the very least speak to the child before the meeting.

Staff in the Home should help each child to prepare for their Review and make child's views, wishes and feelings known at the Review.

The child's social worker must ensure that children and families have been given information about the local authority Complaints Procedure. They should also provide the child with details of independent advocacy services who may provide support if the child requires it.

4. Purpose of the 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. The child's Placement Plan to be reviewed to ensure it continues to meet the needs of the Care and associated plans.

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, and evidence what has been done to achieve engagement, including any actions to taken to escalate concerns.

The agenda 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.

The IRO will decide on what actions in principle are necessary to meet the child's needs and make recommendations as to how these should be achieved.

The IRO will ensure that decisions are clear, and establish who is responsible for action and the timescales agreed for completion.

The representative of the Home who attends the review should take notes of the meeting and ensure the action points are recorded to prevent delay in supporting the child/young person.

5. After the Review

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 and 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 of the meeting will competed within 15 working days and sent to all relevant parties within 20 working days of the Review.

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

The Home's manager has an important 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 their line manager.

6. Role of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)

The IRO is also responsible for monitoring the child's case in between Looked After Reviews.

For example:

  • Children should be told who their IRO is and how to make contact with them;
  • 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 has been missing from the Home;
  • Children have a right to contact their IRO if they are concerned about their placement or Care Plan.

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

The Home's manager should ensure that children are informed of their right to contact their IRO. Furthermore the Home's manager should also consult the IRO if they have any concerns about the child's placement.

7. Disruption Meetings

Disruption Meetings should be convened in relation to children whose placement has ended abruptly or on an unplanned basis.

When endings are unplanned, the welfare and well-being of children remain paramount and staff must always act with this in mind. The needs and feelings of other children living in the Home must also be taken into account.

An emergency placement planning meeting should always be held where there are fears that a placement is at risk of disruption.

Where a placement breaks down or ends on an unplanned basis, the manager of the Home must convene a Disruption Meeting within 5 working days.

An ‘off line’ manager will usually chair the meeting. In complex cases, however, consideration will be given to appointing an independent person as chair. Those invited, or asked to contribute, should be:

  1. The child;
  2. The parents;
  3. The child's social worker and manager;
  4. The link worker/keyworker and Home manager;
  5. The child's Independent Reviewing Officer;
  6. Other relevant staff/professionals.

The meeting will ensure the child (depending on their age and level of understanding) is given the opportunity to understand the reasons for and be supported with managing the transition.

The precise agenda will depend on the child/circumstances, but the manager/chair should ensure the circumstances leading to the disruption are properly reviewed, and that all concerned are provided with opportunities to express their views freely with a view to establishing:

  • How and why the emergency / disruption occurred;
  • To learn from what happened and avoid the same thing happening again - for the child or others in the Home;
  • To contribute to the future planning for the child;
  • To identify work to be done and to ensure it is completed;
  • To ensure that appropriate notifications and other post placement arrangements have been undertaken.

The manager should keep minutes, which must be circulated to all concerned

8. The Home's Arrangements for Looked After Reviews

To follow.