NAIRO has consistently challenged changes which have been proposed by Government since 2016. The proposed changes have sought to reduce the statutory responsibilities of the IRO. Our concern has been the impact that such changes could have for the needs and rights and well-being of children and young people in care. NAIRO has always worked in partnership with other organisations.
Prior to the impact of Covid 19 NAIRO received a statement of support from the Minister – Home page
Currently NAIRO is part of the broad coalition of organisations expressing the depth of our concern about the provisions of The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) Amendment Regulations 2020, which came into force on 24.4.2020 – Home page
History of campaigning and policy work
- Children and Social Work Act 2017
The bill was presented to parliament in 2016 and included clauses to exempt Local Authorities from some statutory duties. NAIRO’s concern was that the clauses posed a threat to the rights of children and young people in care. This was because the crucial role of the IRO in ensuring that the local authority fulfils its responsibilities to children and young people in care, could be reduced or removed.
Campaigning by charities and others in the sector led by Article 39 and supported by NAIRO led to the minister dropping the exemption clauses.
- Foster care in England Report Narey and Owers 2017
Recommendation 7 stated that
“there is little to recommend the IRO role and (we) believe that local authorities should be allowed to dispense with the role reinvesting savings in front line staffing “.
In the context that the remit of this report was about foster care this recommendation came as a surprise to the sector. NAIRO expressed its strong concern about this recommendation and questioned the evidence base for it. Lobbying and campaigning took place, with the outcome that the Minister rejected this recommendation in his formal response to the report:
“Where IROs are valued and listened to, they provide a legitimate and respected challenge function for individual children’s care plans and the wider service delivery.
We will work with organisations representing Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) and LAs to consider how the role of IROs can be put to best effect in the current system and under existing legislation.”
Subsequently the Government invited suggestions from the sector as to how the effectiveness of the IRO function could be improved. NAIRO consulted with the IRO network and sent its response.
Current Policy work
- NAIRO is currently involved in a programme of work with the DFE, the judiciary and partners to consider what an improvement plan for the sector could look like.
- The Adoption and Children (Coronavirus) Amendment Regulations 2020 – came into force 24.4.2020 – NAIRO statement and Article 29 article in the Guardian
- Article 39 which is a children’s rights charity has applied to the High Court for a judicial review of the Coronavirus Amendment regulations as above – Article 39 Legal Action
Current research and feedback
At the national conference, NAIRO undertook a benchmarking survey as a “temperature check” of services on the ground. Some findings were:
Caseloads: 16% of IROs had between 50-60, 42% had between 60-70, and 16% had between 70-80 11% had between 80-90.
CP Chairs and IROs
37% of IROs identified that they were also CP chairs, 63% identified that they were IROs only.
Regular meetings with the Assistant Director to raise systemic issues.
Never -74%, Quarterly 17%, Annually 9%.
The full results of the benchmarking survey are available to NAIRO members in the full report of the NAIRO conference which is located in the members’ area- Members Area
HOW CAN YOU CONTRIBUTE TO NAIRO’s POLICY WORK?
- Complete the Survey Monkey which will contribute to NAIRO’s temperature check about the experience of IROs on the front line – it is completely anonymous. The results will be published ….Home page
- Contribute your views about how the effectiveness of IRO services could be improved – via the Google group …
- Participate in NAIRO on line discussion groups