Looked After Child Reviews

The role of foster carers

Your contributions to Looked After Child (LAC) Reviews are a vital part of the process in sharing views and information, identifying new goals and promoting the child’s development.

When a child or young person is placed in foster care the legal grounds can differ. Some children will arrive through a voluntary agreement (Section 20 the Children Act 1989), between Children and Families, and someone with parental responsibility. Alternatively, if the child is viewed as at risk of significant harm, s/he may have been made the subject of Police Protection (lasting 3 days), an Emergency Protection Order (lasting up to 8 days) or an Interim Care Order (which lasts for the period specified in the order - new provision - started in April 2014). The above orders give parental responsibility to the local authority. Your supervising social worker or the child’s social worker can provide you with more information about this and your role in their care.

Once a child is placed with you (irrespective of agreement or an order), their Initial LAC Review meeting will take place within 28 days, then within a further period of 91 days, and most future reviews will take place within a further period of 183 days.

Before each review you will be sent a report document (either by post or electronically). Ideally this should be completed as soon as possible and returned to the Independent Reviewing Officer, who will be preparing to chair the review meeting. Your report will help you to structure your thoughts and enable you to comment under specific headings and questions. However, the best approach is to prepare by identifying, not just areas of concern/need, but most importantly to focus on achievements (no matter how small) and making suggestions for the benefit of the child and their Care Plan.

Social workers are often expected to complete assessments of children and their families. There is Common Assessment Framework containing seven dimensions which is used by social workers. These are the same as the structure of the Assessment and Progress Record  for LAC Reviews. This is a document that you will be asked to help with (normally between the second and third LAC Reviews). However, the child’s social worker will advise you further and has the role of the co-ordinator, regarding its completion.

The seven areas are useful in helping you consider how the child is functioning and what their needs are. These are:

  • health
  • education
  • identity
  • family and social relationships
  • social presentation
  • emotional and behavioural development
  • self care skills.

The LAC Review meeting will benefit from your thoughts in the above areas.

You are part of a team of people who should all be working effectively together in the best interests of the child. Your views are valued and are unique as you have the advantage of caring for the child for sustained periods of time.

It is expected that you will have explained your thoughts and opinions to the child placed with you well before the review, so that s/he can feel confident about your comments and not be worried that unpleasant surprises may occur!

It is the norm that most children of about six years and above attend all or part of their review meeting and where possible these meetings should take place in the informal setting of the foster home.

The role of the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) has been strengthened through legislation, most recently with the provision of the Department for Education 2011 IRO Handbook, and further strengthened in the Children and Families Act 2014. There is now clear responsibility on the IRO to monitor the activity of the Local Authority, in meeting the assessed needs of children through their Care Plan. The IRO has the power to challenge decision making for all looked after children, to the highest level of the authority and if necessary will refer the matter to the Court and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS), if it is considered that the child’s human rights are being breached.

If you have any questions or concerns about the role of the IRO or the reviewing and Care Planning process, then the IRO Team will always be happy to hear from you. They can be contacted on 01273 295973.





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