Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Initial Free Legal Information/Signposting for NAIRO Members

NAIRO are pleased to offer our members a new service whereby a solicitor will provide NAIRO with assistance in relation to their initial legal enquiries in the course of their work.

Caroline Landes Solicitor and Partner in the firm of McMillan Williams Solicitors Limited has agreed to work with NAIRO in this regard.  Caroline has been practising law in the area of family and children for 30 years and is a member of the accreditation scheme for children law at the Law Society. 

Caroline is prepared to assist the members of NAIRO with initial legal enquiries in the course of their IRO work.  This advice will be limited to 20 minutes maximum one off per case initial legal information/signposting by telephone relating only to work undertaken by our members professionally.  

If the matter goes further then funding arrangements will be discussed and will need to be secured.  If you wish to avail yourself of this service then please contact info@nairo.org.uk who will then ask you to complete a form of referral which will be emailed to Caroline and following a conflict check being undertaken Caroline will make contact with you by telephone or email as soon as possible after your enquiry.  If the matter is urgent then please mark you enquiry accordingly. 

Caroline is of course happy to provide IRO’s with legal advice on personal/their own family matters and/or signpost them elsewhere within McMillan Williams Solicitors Limited.  However this advice will need to be funded and does not fall within the ambit of the above scheme.  

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

NAIRO Training Day for New and Aspiring IROs 2017 [Leeds]

This event is to be held:

At: Voluntary Action Leeds, Stringer House, 34 Lupton Street, Hunslet, Leeds LS10 2QW

On: Thursday 18th May 2017

Time: 9.30am to 4.00pm

Price: £99.00 Members and £140.00 Non-Members

Lead Trainer:  Andrew Broome

For further information, please email training@nairo.org.uk 

To book and pay via PayPal, please click the button below:

£99.00 Members

£140.00 Non-members

Monday, 17 April 2017

Section 20 & 2015 Guidance on Returning Home to Parents

NAIRO Training Event May 25th 2017 in Central London

Section 20, family reunification, and alternative routes to permanence NAIRO training event is to be held in central London:

At: Voluntary Action Islington, 200a Pentonville Road, London N1 9JP

On: Thursday 25th May 2017 

At: 9.30 am to 4.00 pm

Trainers, Professor June Thoburn, and Jon Fayle

June Thoburn will summarise the 1989-Act debates and the post-Act research on the use of Section 20, and on reunification of children from care or accommodation. She will briefly explore the relevance of the 2015 Guidance on Permanence (long-term foster care and return to parents)

A key theme of the day will be examining effective ways of involving the adults who are important to the child in the review process -specifically birth parents, relatives and foster carers. 
In the light of current debates, we shall explore the appropriate use of Section 20 as a short and longer term legal status that contributes to family connectedness for children across the age groups. 

Jon Fayle will focus on the practice of IROs in involving foster carers in the review process, looking at their role with respect to different permanence plans.

Using case vignettes drawn from actual cases, small group discussions will focus on specific issues that can arise for IROs.

Course will be £99 for NAIRO members, £140 for non members.

More details will be posted on the NAIRO website as they become available.

Please contact training@nairo.org.uk to book a place.

To book and pay online via PayPal, please click button below:

£99 Members

£140 Non-members

Friday, 17 March 2017

NAIRO Annual General Meeting (AGM) 2017

This event is to be held in central London:

At:  The LIFT, 45 White Lion Street, London N1 9PW

On:  Friday 17th March 2017

Time:  10.30am to 1.00pm

Price:  Free

Guest Speaker: Carolyne Willow, Director Article 39 and NAIRO Patron

The campaign for children’s rights and the removal of the exemption clauses

General discussion: 'The Challenge of the Future'.

For further information, please email info@nairo.org.uk 

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Press Release on behalf of NAIRO from Jacki Rothwell, Chair of the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers

“The Government says not every child looked after by local authorities needs an independent reviewing officer. But these posts were created in order to hold local authorities to account and protect the human rights of children. How can it be right to allow local authorities to dispense with this independent scrutiny and be excused from legislation passed by Parliament to uphold the rights of very vulnerable children?”

Please  look at  https://togetherforchildren.wordpress.com/latest and support the campaign as much as you are able


Wednesday, 5 October 2016


NAIRO campaigns against measures in the Children and Social Work Bill that threaten to remove children’s rights and to dismantle the IRO Service


Chair: Jacki Rothwell 
Vice Chair: Paul Smart 
Vice Chair: Jon Fayle

In 1946 rules were introduced requiring 6 monthly reviews of children in foster care. This followed the death of 12 year old Dennis O’Neill who was killed by his foster carers. The coroner criticised the lack of local authority supervision. Reviews were later extended to those living in Children’s Homes. In 2002 Parliament passed legislation to make local authorities appoint independent persons to lead the review process. Independent Reviewing Officers must be qualified and experienced social workers and their statutory role includes checking the local authority has informed young people of their rights to make a complaint, access support from an advocate and helping the child obtain legal advice.

Measures in the Children and Social Work Bill, currently going through parliament, threaten the continued existence of the IRO Service.

Clauses 29 – 33 of the Bill would enable Local Authorities to apply for exemptions from their duties to provide services and support to children (and corresponding rights for children) which are enshrined in law. This is said to be intended to enable innovation, but many in the children’s sector, including NAIRO, question this. We believe innovation can be achieved without the erosion of hard won children’s rights, which this Bill threatens.

When Lord Nash spoke for the Government in the House of Lords in the 2nd reading debate on 14.6.16. the IRO service was one of his 2 examples of a service ripe for dismantling.

He said:

“Secondly, there is strong consensus in the sector that in low risk cases, the role of the independent reviewing officer brings no additional benefit. Exemptions will enable local authorities to trial redirecting IRO resource differently – for example, to more complex cases - while reducing the number of additional people a young person does not know at their review, which is a known concern in more straightforward cases.”

At least two local authorities are reported to be requesting an exemption from legislation which will reduce basic rights for children in care and reduce the IRO service.

On 11th July Lord Nash informed the House of Lords that in North Yorkshire there are just over 400 children in care but there are only 20 children on average who would require regular in depth reviews if the authority was granted exemption from the law in relation to reviews and IROs.

We understand that Hampshire County Council would ask for 2 exemptions from the current legislation

(a) to reduce the frequency of children’s reviews below the current minimum

(b) for the role of the IRO to be carried out by individuals who are not qualified social workers (and potentially therefore less able to challenge the local authority on behalf of the child)

The role of the IRO is to scrutinise the local authority’s care plan for the child and listen carefully to the views of the child and others about the plan. They must challenge the local authority if they believe the plan is not in the best interests of the child. The loss of the rights of children in care to the protection of this service would be a disastrous backward step.

NAIRO will campaign tirelessly to resist this legislation in partnership with other individuals, children’s rights groups and charities.  In particular we are part of a campaign called “Together for Children – Defending Children’s Social Care Rights” https://togetherforchildren.wordpress.com/

We urge all people concerned about the lives of children in care, to join this campaign against these potentially disastrous measures.

Jacki Rothwell, Chair of NAIRO said “We are passionate about improving outcomes for children in care. We believe this measure in the Children and Social Work Bill, if it became law, would have a disastrous impact on the rights of children in care, and on their lives. 

This measure is not about “innovation” it is about dismantling children’s rights.

I have not met an IRO in the country who thinks these measures would help children in care.

We encourage all IROs, social workers, children’s rights workers, and all those who care about the lives of children in care, to do all they can to resist these clauses in the Bill and to join the ‘Together for Children’ campaign.

We call on the Government to withdraw the clauses from the Bill, and enter discussions with NAIRO and others about how the IRO service could really be improved for the benefit of looked after children”


October 2016

Patrons of the National Association of Independent Reviewing Officers
Sir Vince Cable (former MP and Secretary of State for Business)
The Earl of Listowel
June Thoburn CBE, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, University of East Anglia
John Kemmis, Former Chief Executive, VOICE
Ray Jones, Emeritus Professor of Social Work, Kingston University

Notes for Editors

Independent Reviewing Officers
An Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) is a qualified social worker who has a responsibility to review the cases of children in care at regular intervals. A key element of the role is to scrutinise the local authority care plan for the child, in particular taking into account the child’s wishes and feelings, and being mindful of the child’s rights. If the IRO believes the LA plan is not in the best interests of the child, she/he has the duty to challenge the local authority to whatever level is necessary to resolve the matter.

NAIRO was founded in March 2009. It is the only national professional organisation for IROs in the country. We have a fast growing membership from England, Wales, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.

NAIRO is devoted to improving outcomes for looked after children by maximising the positive impact of the reviewing process.

NAIRO has recently registered as a charity with a view to obtaining more funding from charitable sources, to enable us to strengthen our organisation for the benefit of children in care.

We have the benefit of several leading academics in social work or related fields, amongst our associate membership. We also have a number of eminent patrons who support our work.

For more information see our website www.nairo.org.uk

Friday, 16 September 2016

Independent Reviewing Officers

Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) are amongst the first social work professionals to be identified as superfluous to achieving good outcomes for looked after children and young people by the proponents of the Children & Social Work Bill.

North Yorkshire and Hampshire have both asked to be exempted from legislation relating to IROs
On 11th July Lord Nash informed the House of Lords that in North Yorkshire there are just over 400 children in care but there are only 20 children on average who would require regular in depth reviews if the authority was granted exemption from the law in relation to reviews and IROs.

Hansard Quote:

For example, in the case of independent reviewing officers, children have fed back to our partner in practice authorities that they do not like additional people who they do not know to be present at their case reviews discussing intimate information. More specifically, in the case of North Yorkshire, just over 400 children and young people are looked after. The vast majority are very settled and achieving well. Older young people in this position tell the authority that they find regular formal reviews unsettling and that they would like to be treated like their non-looked-after peers. There is then a much smaller number, on average 20, who are not currently settled and require regular in-depth reviews. This is one area in which a request for use of the power to innovate may well be made to make more effective use of the experienced cohort of independent officers.

Hampshire County Council have asked for exemptions to be made to allow fewer reviews to be held for looked after children and for the role of Reviewing Officer to be carried out by non social work qualified professionals.

Have IROs or IRO Managers in Hampshire and North Yorkshire been asked for their view of what impact this will have on the most vulnerable children in these areas?

Jacki Rothwell

Chair of Trustees NAIRO