The role of the independent reviewing officer in improving care planning

Local authorities are required to appoint Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs) to have independent oversight of the way that looked after children are being cared for. New guidance has been in operation since April 2011 in an attempt to strengthen the existing arrangements, but some have called for more radical reform. The aim of this study is to develop an evidence base about the implementation, effectiveness and costs of the IRO role, in order to inform policy and practice.

The research will involve a national online survey of IROs and IRO managers and a survey of all Directors of Children's Services. Data from Ofsted, DfE and Cafcass will also be incorporated into the analysis. Qualitative research will be carrieid out in four local authorities, including interviews with key stakeholders and looked after children; focus groups with IROs and social workers, and analysis of a sample of care plans. A analysis will be undertaken of the costs associated with the IRO service.

Project details



Ivana La Valle, National Children's Bureau

Funding Programme:

Children and Families

Grant amount and duration:

£139, 091

January 2012 - December 2013



The Role of Independent Reviewing Officers in England, NCB, March 2014

Full report (PDF)

Research summary (PDF)