The National IRO Manager Partnership has produced this free e-magazine to support the work of its members. It offers professional news; good practice highlights; reflections on topical policy matters and links to articles to support continuous professional development as a IRO.
Sharon Martin, March 28th, 2015
What really matters to improved outcomes for children in care is the chance to build a trusting long-term relationship with a carer who shows their love, warmth and commitment on a day-to-day basis over time.
Too often though, children in care continue to experience instability and multiple changes of carer.
Young people’s situations can break down for a whole host of reasons, and sometimes a care placement doesn’t work out despite best efforts. When care placements are made in a hurry or an emergency, information may not be passed on quick enough or not at all to the foster carer so the carer has no real idea what they are dealing with.
IROs find that too often care placements initially made as a short term measure drift and become ‘long term’ without a full assessment only to break down later. This can result in confusion, frustration and upset and the child’s care placement breaking down.
The good news is that there’s a lot of research and innovation in the care sector at the moment and the changes to the Care Planning Regulations provide more flexibility. Read more
The following example shows how IROs can use dispute processes to ensure more timely action to secure improvements to children and young people’s stability and permanency outcomes.
Example courtesy of Alex Sutton, Chair for the South East Region
An IRO identified a number of young people she reviews who had been waiting for some time for permanent placements with foster carers. These were children who did not have any special needs or difficulties. The IRO advocated on their behalf and in one case opened a dispute to challenge senior managers about placements as the timeliness of the move needed was acute so that the young person could not start senior school in a planned way. This dispute was escalated to the Director of Children’s Services and the Chief Executive. This was resolved and he and his brother were placed permanently with foster carers and have maintained a high level of continuity. The other young people have also been placed.
The IRO Handbook is clear that IROs must challenge where necessary to make sure children and young people experience placement stability and permanence. There is widespread acceptance amongst the IRO community that if we are to improve the outcomes for young people who spend time in care then we must use our powers to challenge effectively.