Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, this project aimed to better understand the role of Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) in order to inform future policy and practice.
The work was carried out in partnership with the Centre for Child and Family Research at Loughborough University. The final report was published in April 2014.
Our research involved national surveys of IROs, their managers and Directors of Children Services; analysis of inquiries from IROs to independent advice services; an analysis of resources needed for the IRO service; and case studies of four local authorities, including an analysis of care plans, interviews and focus groups with IROs, social workers, other key professionals and looked after children.
The study revealed some important issues that affect the role of IROs.
The research revealed that being paid at the same level as a team manager (as suggested by the guidance) was important for IROs as it gives them the authority and professional standing required to challenge poor practice.
The research also revealed that one of the most important aspects of the IROs' role, as described by all participants in the study, is to work closely with children and to remain child-centred in everything they do.
Overall, the findings provide valuable information to support local authorities in developing their IRO services and in ensuring that IROs are able to work to their best.