When you are in care, you will have a special plan and regular meetings to review your situation.
Reviews are regular meetings where you and people working with you discuss whether your care plan is giving you the best care possible, and make sure that everything listed in the care plan is happening. They are also a chance to talk about what has happened since the previous review and see if any changes need to be made.
What is a care plan?
Anyone who is being looked after needs a care plan, which states what your family, the county council, and other groups and people should do to support you to live a happy and productive life. The kind of things a care plan considers includes your:
- religion and culture
- hobbies and interests
- contact with people who are important to you
Preparing for your review
As a child or young person who is in care you will have meetings every few months called LAC Reviews. These meetings look at your Care Plan and are chaired by your Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). These are your meetings and it is really important that you are heard. Sometimes even when you are in the meeting it can be hard to tell people what you think.
There are lots of ways that you can let your Independent Reviewing Officer know what you think before the LAC Review, for example: meeting with them, a phone call, an email, text, or letter.
Crucial: Oxfordshire County Council uses a fantastic app called Mind of My Own which can help you get ready for your review meetings and worker visits. It runs on all phones and computers, and even your PS4 and Xbox. You can also use it to complain, have your say and much more. Talk to your worker if you don't have Mind of My Own already, or sign up on their website..
The Children In Care Council and the Independent Reviewing Officers have worked together and designed these LAC Review Forms. They can help you think about the things you may want to say. You can fill in the Review Form before your meeting and email or post it to your Independent Reviewing Officer, or use it to help you think about what you want to say before your meeting.
What happens at a review?
An Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) will run the review and make sure that everyone at the meeting has a fair say, especially you. Before the review you will be able to meet with the IRO in private to talk about anything you would like discussed or want the IRO to know about. This is a good time for you to talk about any concerns that you might have about your review. If you are over 16, you might have a pathway plan, which will also be discussed at your review to make sure that you agree with what has been written. A pathway plan takes over when your care plan ends and looks at the support you will need when you leave care. It will include things like where you will live, education, training, jobs and money.
Do I have to be there?
Since reviews are about you and your future you should be there so you can say what you want to happen. If you aren't able to go, or choose not to, make sure that you tell someone your views or write them down so that they can still be heard. Always try to think about what you would like to say at the meeting, such as something you have achieved and are very proud of. It might help to write it all down beforehand and take it with you so you don't forget anything.
Who else will be there?
The review meeting would normally include your foster carer/s, their supervising social worker, someone from school, like your teacher, and possibly your doctor or someone else who knows you and your family professionally. We will let you know who will be at your review and why before the meeting is arranged. You can take someone you know and trust along to support you, like an older friend or advocate. An advocate is someone who works independently – they’re not part of Oxfordshire County Council – and whose job it is to support you and ensure your views are heard. If there is anyone who you don’t want to attend, speak to your social worker or the IRO about this. They will work out the best way to get the views of this person in a way that you feel comfortable with.
How often are reviews held?
The first review must be held no later than four weeks after you start being looked after. A second review must be held three months after that. Reviews are then held every six months. If you move, or there is another important change, the next review might have to be held sooner than planned.
After your review
After the review, what has been discussed and decided is written down. You can have a copy of the decisions that were made at the meeting and your plan, which you might like to keep in a safe place to look at later on. It’s a good idea to talk over what happened with someone you trust, especially if there were things in it that you didn't understand. We are always looking for ways to make your meeting a better experience for you so if you feel there were things that you were unhappy with or something could have been explained better, tell the IRO, your social worker or your carer.
Chairing your own review
Some young people choose to chair their own reviews; you don’t have to be a certain age to do this, and you can get support from the Independent Reviewing Officer and your social worker. The IRO will meet with you beforehand to help you plan this and you can ask for extra support at the meeting from an advocate. Young people who have chaired their reviews have said that they felt more in control of the meeting and what is talked about. They have all been keen to do so again at the next review.