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Independent reviewing officer

Oversee and review care plans to ensure local authorities are acting in the best interests of children
Other names
Child protection chair, reviewing officer

What you'll do

As an independent reviewing officer (IRO) you’ll:

  • oversee care plans and ensure they’re meeting the needs of children 
  • chair review meetings and organise them in a child-friendly way  
  • act as a first point of contact for children and advocate for their interests 
  • ensure care plans are being fully implemented by local authorities 
  • act as a consistent and trusted point of support in a child’s life 
  • manage relationships between children, families, local authorities and the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) 
  • ensure local authorities are fulfilling their statutory obligations 
  • provide guidance and support to social workers, families, placement providers and other external partners 
  • follow formal escalation processes to raise concerns with senior managers or Cafcass

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • decision-making and problem-solving skills to handle complex and sensitive cases
  • experience of conducting child-centred and family-focused reviews
  • the ability to negotiate with different parties to achieve positive outcomes
  • effective communication skills to manage competing relationships
  • critical thinking skills to assess complex information and make evidence-based decisions
  • the ability to act as a critical friend to social workers to ensure good outcomes for children
  • knowledge of child protection legislation, policies and best practice guidelines
  • effective leadership and management skills

How to become one

To become an IRO you must:

  • have completed a degree, apprenticeship or graduate training scheme in social work 
  • be registered with Social Work England
  • ideally have at least 3 years' experience as a qualified child and family social worker 
  • have experience supervising social workers and advising on their practice
  • have experience chairing complex meetings and reviews

If you’re an experienced practitioner, the Pathway 2: middle managers programme can help prepare you to progress to an IRO role.

Career paths and progression

With experience you could:

  • progress into an advanced leadership role such as service manager or head of service
  • move into a training and consultancy role and deliver training programmes to social workers
  • specialise in quality assurance and compliance, ensuring standards and regulatory requirements are met

The Pathway 3: heads of service programme can help prepare you to progress to a service manager or head of service role.

Current opportunities

The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.