LAC Review – What are they?
LAC reviews, what are they? Everyone involved in the fostering sector should be well aware of this due to their importance. Well at least that’s what we are told. LAC reviews are considered as one of the most imperative multi-professional meetings for looked after children. They allow for information sharing and monitoring of the child’s care plan to ensure their needs are being met.
So if they are so important, why are children not involved in the planning of these meetings? The meeting is of course solely about them. I have often found children are not consulted about being involved nor are the meetings held at a suitable time (aka after school). Children’s views should be integral in our decision making and involving them at their reviews, when appropriate, should be one of the most important factors when planning a LAC review.
Another thing I often question is, what do IRO’s actually do? The role is seen as highly regarded. When IRO’s deliver recommendations towards the end of the LAC reviews, they give social workers timescales and explain how critical it is for the actions to be met. Have I ever experienced these actions being met within the timescales if at all? Rarely. Have I witnessed an IRO chase any outstanding tasks following a LAC review? Sadly not. So if a LAC review doesn’t include the child and the IRO’s involvement has little benefit for the child, then why are these meetings considered so important?
How much authority do IRO’s actually have? Was the fostering stocktake right when it suggested the roles of IRO’s could be scrapped? What changes could be made to make their roles more effective?
From my experience, albeit limited to one region in the UK, I feel IRO’s require lower case loads to ensure a suitable amount of time and planning can go into the organisation of LAC reviews. I also feel the child’s involvement should be a statutory requirement (when appropriate) and this should be underpinned by legislation. If a child is over 11 perhaps LAC reviews should start at 4pm! Finally, I feel a change in the employment of IRO’s may help. At present they are employed by the local authority, which is also the organisation they are trying to hold to account. If they were employed by an external organisation, maybe this would increase their ‘independence’ and allow them to have more authority to ensure recommendations are followed up.
Harriet (Supervising Social Worker)