How are contact arrangements reviewed for a child who is in care under a court order?
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Once a child is looked after in the care system, children’s services must prepare a care plan for them and keep that plan under regular review. Reviewing a care plan includes reviewing the arrangements for contact set out in the care plan. This will happen at a looked after child review. Sometimes parents and carers may hear this being shortened to just LAC review. This process will happen whether the child is looked after under a voluntary arrangement or under a court order.
Reviews must take place regularly in this way:
- No later than four weeks after the child becomes looked after
- Then within a further three months
- Then every six months (see section 26 of the Children Act 1989, and regulation 33 of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010)
- Whenever an important change to the plan is needed (see paragraphs 4.6 to 4.8 of government statutory guidance called The children Act 1989 guidance and regulations: Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review).
The child’s social worker must talk to the independent reviewing officer (IRO) about contact arrangements. The independent reviewing officer is a social worker whose role is to make sure that children’s services are meeting the child’s needs.
The social worker must tell the independent reviewing officer about:
- Any major change in contact arrangements
- Any complaint by the child or parent.