We draw up a Care Plan for every child we look after. As things change over time, the Care Plan needs to be looked at regularly to make sure that it is still working. We do this with the child by having a LAC (looked after child) review.
When do we have a LAC review?
We have the first review within 28 days of a child or young person becoming looked after.
We have the next review within three months of the first.
After that, we have a review at least every six months
If a child is having short breaks with a foster carer or in a children's home, we have the first review within three months rather than 28 days, because the child might not have been in their placement many days by then.
We might want to have a review more often if there is a lot happening in the young person's life, or there are changes in the overall plan.
Why do we have LAC reviews?
To make sure that the child is getting the care they need and that they have plans in place they can achieve. We might talk about -
- seeing their family and friends
- how they spend time doing things they enjoy
- their emotions and behaviour
- their identity
- for teenagers, we talk about how they can become more independent and what career, education or training plans they might consider
In the review meetings, we talk about what everyone can do to make sure the child is safe, well and happy, also that we are all working towards them having a long term, stable place to live. We see if anything was suggested for the child in an earlier review, if the suggestion was carried out and if there's anything more that needs to be done. We agree who needs to take action and by when.
Who comes to the review?
Normally, people who know the child or young person and work closely with them, such as -
- the child or young person - if they are old enough
- their parents and anyone else who has responsibility as if they were the parent
- their social worker or Personal Advisor
- anyone who is caring for them at the time
- a person to chair the meeting
And sometimes we might invite these people, depending on the situation -
- health staff, such as their health visitor or school nurse
- their teacher or nursery nurse
- the children's guardian, if there are any ongoing legal proceedings
- an advocate for the child, who might be from RAPP, or an independent visitor
- the fostering social worker, who works with the foster carers
- anyone else who the child or young person wants there, if the chair person agrees
We think of the review as the child's meeting, and their social worker should find out who they want to be there if they are old enough. We can have different meetings so that we get the views of the other people or agencies, or they can send us their opinions in other ways if the child doesn't want them to be invited.
Where do we have the reviews?
In the best place for the child. We often have reviews where the child or young person lives, like their foster home or children's home. But we can also have the review at your locaility, at school or somewhere else where the child feels comfortable.
What should parents do for LAC reviews?
Parents are normally invited to the review. When it is possible and appropriate, it's important for parents to come to the review so they can give information and help update the plans for their child.
Sometimes parents don't have contact with their child because a court has restricted this or because parents are separated, and sometimes the child might not want them to come. If the parent can't come, we send them a consultation form, which asks them to put down their views so they can be talked about in the meeting.
Your views as a parent or carer are very important to the review. If you feel you can't express what you think, you can bring along someone to help you or speak for you. This should be someone you trust. You should let the chairperson know before the meeting if someone is coming to help you. If the child or young person feels uncomfortable with the arrangements, this may affect who can go.
Very rarely, parents and their supporters can be kept out of the child's review. If this happens, we explain the reasons why and send feedback from the review in writing afterwards.
Who is in charge of the review?
LAC reviews are the child's meeting, but we have someone who acts as chairperson to make sure the meeting stays on track. This person is called an Independent Conference Reviewing Officer (ICRO).
Young people have told us they want the same person to chair all their reviews, so each looked after child has one ICRO who chairs their reviews every time where possible.
Who is my ICRO?
If you're unsure of who your or your child's ICRO is, you can contact the ICRO team -
Tel: 01482 300 300
Who gets a copy of the review report?
All the people who came to the review or were invited. The ICRO writes up notes from the meeting and send the report, usually within two weeks.
The report includes an overview of what was said and action points of the things to do before the next review. The ICRO write a letter to the child or young person if this is appropriate and depending on their age and understanding.
My child is in short break care - will the review be different?
The first review would be held within three months of the short breaks starting, rather than 28 days. The meeting is normally very similar to other LAC reviews, but it looks at whether the short breaks are still helping the child and their family with the other support they get. This applies to disabled children who are having short breaks and other children whose families need support.
The plan for my child is adoption - will anything be different?
While the child is still with their foster carers, birth parents are still invited to the reviews unless there are other reasons for not inviting them. If a court has ordered that the child is adopted, we hold a review within three months of the order (if the child has not already been placed with their adoptive family before then).
When the child is in their adoptive placement, we have adoption reviews instead of LAC reviews. These start within 28 days from when they were adopted, then within the next three months and then every six moths until they are legally adopted.
Birth parents still have parental responsibility until the child is legally adopted, so we still ask them for their views at the adoption reviews. The ICRO send some information to birth parents after the adoption review. Birth parents can sign a form to say they don't want to get any feedback or be asked about their wishes at adoption reviews anymore, if that's what they want.
The law on adoption is quite complicated and if you have any questions about this, you can contact the ICRO team or the adoption team.
What happens if someone attending the meeting has special needs or speaks another language?
If the child or any adult needs help to communicate, for example because they have a hearing impairment, we can help them. We can arrange for interpreters to be there if someone does not speak English, and documents translated for them.
What happens if there is a disagreement with the plan that is made for the child or young person?
The ICRO try to ensure that all views are heard and that any plan has full support. But if anyone disagrees with the plan this is recorded on the review report. The ICRO recommend what can be done to resolve disagreements and may speak with other people after the review meeting to deal with this.
However, if these things can't be resolved, the ICRO tell the child, young person, parent or carer about their right to complain.