Supervision Orders and the Role of the IRO
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter seeks to provide a more robust procedure and process to support the provision of Supervision Orders when made as a result of Care Proceedings. This will be achieved by providing clear, independent oversight of the Supervision Order requirements and Child In Need Plans by an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). The procedure includes a review during month 9 of the Order, so that a clear decision can be made regarding the outcome of the intervention and whether the Court needs to be approached for an extension. The procedure also includes escalation to a Head of Service where necessary.
This chapter was added in March 2022.
In order to support a robust approach to the oversight and decision making regarding the management of Supervision Orders, this procedure has been developed to ensure that there is an opportunity to independently quality assure the implementation of agreed support plans when a Supervision Order is issued. In addition, towards the end of the Order, the impact of the work will again be considered, independently reviewing proposals made by the Local Authority as to whether, the issues can, be or have been, resolved and is sufficiently stable as to no longer require support.
It is essentially a test as to whether the threshold for a Supervision Order continues to be met and would be purposeful to continue.
To make that determination will require the IRO to quality assure plans and the support offered, including: the impact on family life; checking the work and maintenance of the Local Authority commitment to the plan, in accordance with the Court’s expectations; highlighting any deficits to management regarding the quality of the intervention.
Having such a process in place offers a degree of assurance to the judiciary, as to the robustness of review processes should a Supervision Order be made. The robustness of planning has been an expressed issue for the court, which has led the Court to consider alternate approaches, such as Care Order with Placement with Parents where the court’s confidence is that a higher level of intervention will be maintained. It is therefore leading to a ‘higher tariff’ alternate option which is also a more costly alternative to Supervision Orders, despite that, in the majority of circumstances, such an Order would fulfil the same function.
The Social Worker, upon the issuing of a Supervision Order by the court, should inform the Safeguarding Unit that the Order had been issued. The child’s details, ID number and date of the Order should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The making of the Supervision Order will trigger a rewriting of the case summary. The following specific information should be included:
- The date the Order was made and its planned expiry date;
- Any other Orders that exist (for example Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements Order);
- Any specific wording in the Court Order relating to the making of the Order, for example, to support contact or any other defined tasks;
- The Local Authority plan to ‘advise, assist and befriend’ the child concerned and who will be responsible to individual tasks, (this information may only be available following the 1st Child in Need Plan being agreed).
Upon receipt, the Supervision Order will be allocated to a named IRO for oversight. The name of the IRO will be made available to the Social Worker and added to involvements on LL case file of the child.
The Social Worker will progress the Plan under the Children in Need Procedure as per the local authority procedures, the Social Worker should not expect ongoing interaction with the IRO during that time. Although advice if required would be available.
The IRO will, however, conduct a Review of the casefile; Supervision Order Plan; the first CIN Meeting administering the implementation of the Supervision Order and CIN Plan produced as a working document. The objective is to ensure that the intervention as outlined in the Supervision Order has started in a timely way and that quality of Planning and actions to be taken are clear, SMART and consistent with the needs of the family. Where findings suggest that this is not the case, an immediate escalation should be raised with management to ensure agreed actions committed to are fully applied. IRO’s should note that changes to work can be made but that should be in response to the presenting situation.
The next intervention by the IRO will be to chair a meeting with the specific purpose of formally reviewing the Support Plan, progress made and whether a further application should be requested to extend the Supervision Order for a further period of time. This to be held no later than the end of month 9.
The structure to the discussion is outlined below in the Agenda and should be added in the CIN Meeting minutes.
The minutes are to be completed by the IRO within 10 working days. Minute distribution will include participants, Team Manager and Head of Service.
The Head of Service will review with the Team Manager the outcomes of the meeting. There will be two outcomes from the Review;
- That no further legal action is required, the threshold no longer applies and support, if any, will be offered via CIN or Early Help for example;
- That the Review felt insufficient progress has been made and a further extension should be sought. In that scenario, they should agree what evidence, in conjunction with the minutes, should be submitted to Legal Gateway for discussion and approval for an application to extend the Supervision Order. In all circumstances when a return to Legal gateway is required, part of the discussion must be clarifying:
- Why has the Supervision Order been unsuccessful in addressing the concerns?
- What are the ongoing concerns that reaches threshold?
- The nature of the proposed plans moving forwarded;
- What the service commitments being proposed are;
- Expected outcomes of a further Supervision Order.
Should, at 9 months, there is a failure in meeting the requirements of the support plan and evidence is insufficient, in order for a clear judgement to be made, an immediate escalation should be raised for an urgent review, with necessary work undertaken within the month in order to support a judgement being made to inform if threshold remains.
Should no progress be made in two weeks following the meeting, the matter should be immediately escalated to the Head of Service to ensure the matter is addressed.
In those circumstances, the meeting should be reconvened and concluded by the end of month 10. It is expected the Head of Service will attend and participate in the discussion regarding threshold and next steps. This is to facilitate immediate oversight and agreement to progress, if required to go to Legal Gateway. This will also allow the Head of Service to review the quality and consistency of the intervention to date as part of management oversight.