What a looked after child review is
A looked-after child review (LAC review) is a statutory meeting that brings together key people and professionals who are closely concerned with the care of the child.
It's an opportunity to review the child’s care plan, discuss the child’s progress and make plans for the future.
When they take place
The first review must be held four weeks after a child comes into care.
If the child remains in care, there must be a second review no more than three months after that.
Further reviews must be held at least every six months.
Who comes to the review meeting
The meeting will be chaired by an independent reviewing officer (IRO) who is an experienced social worker and independent of children’s services.
The review will be attended by:
- the child, if they're old enough and understand what's going on
- anyone else with parental responsibility (unless there's a specific reason why they can’t attend)
- the child’s social worker
- the child’s foster carer or residential worker
- a representative from the child’s school who knows the child well, usually the designated teacher or class teacher
- possibly other people or professionals who know the child well. It's important to limit the number of people at the meeting so that everyone, especially the child, feels able to listen and contribute.
In exceptional cases, parents and supporters of the child won't be allowed to attend the meeting. The IRO and the child’s social worker will make this decision together, and explain the reasons why.
Where the meeting's held
The review will take place at a venue that's most sensitive to the needs and circumstances of the child. This will usually be the child’s placement. It can be at other venues, and sometimes at the child’s school if this is felt to be appropriate.
What happens at the meeting
At the meeting, the main focus of discussion will be:
- current day-to-day arrangements for the care of the child
- the child’s health,
- the child’s education, including their TPEP and use of the pupil premium
- the child’s emotional wellbeing
- the plan for their long term care
At the end of the meeting, a date for the next review will be agreed.
The independent reviewing officer will complete a written report of the review meeting, recording the decisions that are made.
It's important that the meeting's conducted in such a way that the child feels comfortable and safe enough to contribute.
These tips from our Independent Reviewing Officers will help you contribute effectively to a LAC review meeting.
Make sure the meeting time and place are in the child’s best interests
Don’t assume the meeting should be held at school or in school hours.
Children have told us that they don't always want the review at the school because it can make them feel different. Holding it in the school day also means they're taken out of lessons.
Be as positive as possible
Sometimes school staff and other professionals can use the review as an opportunity to address perceived negatives regarding a child’s behaviour.
If there's the need for a challenging conversation with the child, this should, wherever possible, be done outside the review.
Remain child focused throughout
There should be no surprises. The child should have a good understanding of what will be said about him/her in the meeting.
Children sometimes don't want teachers and other professionals to be present throughout all the meeting, especially if sensitive information is being considered.
Because of this, teachers may be asked to attend just the part of the meeting relevant to the child’s educational needs.
Make sure you complete TPEP and REO documentation on time and that it's available for the review.
Prioritise your attendance
This is an important meeting for the child; if you have any difficulty in attending, discuss this with the social worker and/or the IRO before the meeting.