Independent Reviewing Service – Safeguarding Birmingham’s Children in Care
Sam Wilson, July 6, 2015
There are over 2,000 children in care in Birmingham, each having come from a different background, each with their own experiences and, as a result, their own individual needs. Needless to say, the challenge of ensuring that each individual child receives effective and relevant care is huge.
Since November 2014, Birmingham City Council have been working in partnership with Cafcass, a non-departmental public body which helps children going through care or adoption proceedings or whose parents have separated and unable to reach a custody agreement. Cafcass ensure that children have a voice in family court and strive to ensure that children’s welfare is put first in proceedings.
The result of this partnership was the formation of a ground-breaking Independent Reviewing Service; designed to raise the profile of the 2,000 children in care in the city and provide them with a robust safety net. This goes a long way to ensuring that no child in care is placed in danger and are all provided with care and support based on their individual needs.
At the heart of this dynamic service are the Independent Reviewing Officers, empowered to participate in and influence improved methods of care planning and review. This includes ensuring that each child has a bespoke reviewing plan that addresses their own developmental needs.
There are a vast array of reasons that children are placed in care and it is up to the Independent Reviewing Officers to understand the impact that a child’s journey through care has had on their wellbeing. It is this in-depth understanding that allows these officers to effectively formulate individual care plans, modelling creative and inspiring social work.
The complexities of working with children in care make it an extremely sensitive field, ideal scenarios in which children are rehabilitated to the care of their parents are not always achievable or indeed the safest option for the child. In these circumstances the priority becomes permanently placing children without delay. Throughout this process, it is the responsibility of Independent Reviewing Officers to ensure that timely interventions are carried out wherever necessary.
So what does it take to be a successful IRO? As well as being a qualified social worker, an IRO is required to act as an ambassador for children in care. Emotional intelligence as well as confidence and energy are key along with the ability to work positively with a variety of multi-disciplinary partners as well as other members of Children’s Services. The ability to be self-sufficient and highly organised is also essential to success in this role.
The introduction of the Independent Reviewing service displays a genuine commitment to the provision of highly effective services for children in care. It recognises the individuality of cases and the need for a tailored and sustained approach for each child. For those looking for an opportunity to be part of an innovative service that truly places the user at the centre of its work, there are currently vacancies at birminghamsocialcarejobs.com.