Directors of children’s services would welcome the freedom to scrap the independent reviewing officer (IRO) role.
The fostering stocktake, published in February and written by Sir Martin Narey and Mark Owers, controversially proposed allowing local authorities to scrap the IRO role, enabling them to merge the supervising and children’s social worker roles in long-term fostering arrangements. It also called for a review of the effectiveness of fostering panels.
A response to the fostering stocktake from the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) said it was right in principle that local authorities “are given the flexibility to put in place arrangements to best suit local children”.
The ADCS said it welcomed the proposals, but “would want to ensure that a child’s right to request his/her own social worker remains in place”.
It said while some local authorities would not use the flexibilities, “many” would welcome the opportunity to “reinvest potential savings from these areas into other parts of the business according to local needs and priorities”.
The proposals in the stocktake prompted a furious response from organisations and academics, under the umbrella of ‘Together for Children’, who said it would “greatly weaken” children’s legal protections.
The ADCS said it would “resist” standardised payments or allowances to special guardians or adopters and was concerned that large fostering agencies were making “substantial profits” from fostering.
It added it would welcome a trial of ‘support foster care’, which would see children access additional support and respite opportunities without becoming legally looked-after children.
The government is currently considering the stocktake’s recommendations before formally responding.