In his final recommendations to the government, review chair Josh MacAlister suggests the creation of an independent child advocacy service which would see IRO roles and regulation 44 visitors for children in residential care replaced by one child advocate position. Responding to the review Nagalro chair, Carole Littlechild said: “Nagalro has always had a central concern about making sure that the voice of the child was heard. Nagalro is, therefore, concerned to see that the report proposes to dispense with the role of the IRO.”
She added that while the organisation would “welcome children in care having access to dedicated advocates who can act as advisers, facilitators and a spokesperson for their views,” she believes that MacAlister “has failed to fully understand the role of the IRO and is in danger of ‘throwing out the baby with the bathwater’”. IROs are able “to keep the plans and timetable for the child on track and prevent drift” due to their position within a local authority in a way proposed independent child advocates would not, she said. “A social worker and their manager may well think that the plan is working well but a good IRO, who has spent time listening to the child, can not only point out where the plan is not working for the child but, because of their statutory role and authority, can make the necessary changes,” Littlechild added. Read more.