Independent Reviews of Hertfordshire County Council Foster Carers


The Independent Review Team (IRT) will review Hertfordshire County Council ("HCC") approved foster carers in accordance with National Minimum Standards (2011) ("NMS").

The Review will ensure consistency and equality of service to Children Looked After ("CLA").

HCC is committed to providing the best quality of care to all CLA ensuring that Hertfordshire County Council approved Foster Carers meet the required Standard of NMS (2011) and the Induction Standards of the Children’s Workforce.

See also: Fostering IRO Leaflet.


This chapter was reviewed and updated in September 2022.

1. Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) Reviews

A review should be chaired by an IRO:

  • When a Foster Carer has been the subject of any planned enquiry following an allegation the outcome of which has been concluded, an independent review will be completed and presented to Panel. The review meeting should take place within 28 days of the conclusion of the investigation;
  • When a Foster Carer has been the subject of internal or external complaint in relation to practice or when Foster Carers have made a complaint in respect of the Fostering Service;
  • Following a disruption of a matched long-term placement consideration to be given to an Independent Review and /or a disruption meeting;
  • Shared Care professional foster carers as point 5 above;
  • A sample of reviews of family and friends carers;
  • Supported Lodgings carers who are approved under Fostering Regulations are also subject to the review process and any concerns referred to the IRO in accordance with these procedures;
  • Sample of First Reviews to provide an overview for purposes of quality assurance for the Fostering Service and IRT;
  • Where the Fostering Service Manager considers that an Independent Review is required.

2. Notifications and Referrals to the Independent Review Service


In instances where a foster carer has been referred to LADO, regardless of whether LADO threshold was met, the Supervising Social Worker should notify the IRO.

Referrals to an IRO

  • Where the Supervising Social Worker identifies a quality of care concern, they should complete the Standards of Care Report at the point of referral to the IRO Placement Review Officer. Referral to be made via the Independent Fostering Review Address Book;
  • Complaints to be referred by Fostering Team Manager/IRT - Manager;
  • IROs to dip sample, at their discretion, any other reviews including themed;
  • Any other reviews to be referred by Fostering Service and discussed with IRO;
  • Strong consideration to be given for the need to undertake an independent review when other professionals have raised concerns about the quality of care.

3. Pre-Meeting

  • Referral to an IRO via the Independent Fostering Review address book;
  • An IRO will allocate and make contact with SSW to discuss the issues, timescales and set review meeting date;
  • SSW to request a panel date following consultation with an IRO in relation to timescales. Good practice would indicate that the review should be held within 6 weeks of the referral;
  • SSW to send an IRO all review paperwork at least 1 working week before the review meeting. This should include a report that includes feedback from other professionals (e.g. education, health, CAMHS, social workers) analysis and recommendations. Where a placement has ended, the Fostering Service should include the Independent Review Form for Social Workers with the report.

For Standards of Care Reviews, the SSW should complete the Quality of Care Report (Located in LCS):

  • The IRO will identify key areas to explore during or prior to the review meeting and identify any missing reports/information and seek clarification;
  • It is the responsibility of the IRO to identify any additional work that may be required to be undertaken prior to the review and to seek the additional information through SSW or their manager;
  • The IRO will view all paper and electronic files which are deemed necessary relating to the approved foster carers and, if relevant, the electronic files pertaining to the children and young people placed;
  • In all applicable cases IRO’s may offer to meet separately with Foster Carers if requested.

4. Review Meeting

Purpose of meeting (Helen Cosis Brown CoramBAAF 2011) is for the IRO, Foster Carers, SSW to evaluate and appraise the quality of care that has been undertaken in the designated review period).

  • Evaluate the quality of direct care offered by the Foster Carer to each child looked after within the designated review period;
  • Where a Foster Carer has their own, including adult children, living within the home or who have significant contact or involvement, the impact of fostering on them;
  • Consider any allegations, complaints implication for continued approval;
  • The review will also consider and evaluate the areas identified as part of NMS and from the information contained within the SSW report the following:
    • Support Network;
    • Quality of Foster Carer working relationship with SSW and other professional;
    • Ability to work with Birth families;
    • Training and personal development;
    • Target from previous review and matters identified in previous Foster Panel Minutes;
    • Changes to the circumstances to the household and impact of fostering;
    • Identify areas of strength, vulnerability and future development.

5. IRO Report

The purpose of the IRO Report is to present an overview and analysis dawn from the reports provided by Fostering Service and Review meeting.

See CS0221F15 IRO Review Report.

The IRO Report will:

  • Evaluate the quality of Foster Carers abilities in accordance with regulatory framework;
  • Address any identified specific matters with the SSW practice;
  • Address any specific matters arising from the review (i.e. allegation/complaint);
  • Provide an analysis of information obtained and an overview providing a balanced evaluation of the quality of Foster Carers practice;
  • Include a plan for improvement / support;
  • Recommendation of the IRO including continued approval, terms of approval with consideration for evidence and rationale when making the recommendation and/or any additional recommendation which may be included. The report may also recommend de-registration or that no further child be placed if any identified matters remain unresolved;
  • The completed IRO report (separate to SSW report) will be completed within 15 working days by the IRO and agreed by all parties;
  • When IRO report is received by the SSW and manager, it should be checked for factual inaccuracies which are to be agreed by IRO and collated with the review paperwork, copy should be sent to Foster Carers by the Fostering Service within 5 working days for comments and signed by FC, SSW, Manager and be submitted by Fostering Administrator to FS Panel.

6. Proposed Timescales

If Fostering and/or IRO recommend termination of approval or contested change of approval:

Day 1 - Conclusion of investigation
Day 21 - SSW /TM to sign off Review and send to FC and IRO
Day 28 - IRO review meeting to be held (28 days after conclusion of investigation)
Day 42 - Deadline for IRO to complete IRO review (2 weeks following IRO review meeting), send to SSW and Foster carer
Day 63 - Deadline for SSW to submit paper work to panel
Day 70 - If recommendation of IRO review is termination of approval (carers needs to be given 28 days to respond to report), so this is the deadline of when carers can respond to the review report.
Foster carers response to be sent to panel within 5 working days of panel
Day 77 - Fostering Panel

If Fostering and IRO recommend continued approval (uncontested):

Day 1 - Conclusion of investigation
Day 21 - SSW /TM to sign off Review and send to FC and IRO
Day 28 - IRO review meeting to be held ( 28 days after conclusion of investigation)
Day 49 - Deadline for IRO to complete IRO review (15 working days following IRO review meeting), send to SSW and Foster carer
Day 56 - Submit Panel paper work
Day 63 - Last day Foster carers can submit any comments to panel in writing
Day 70 (or as close to as possible depending on panel dates) - Fostering panel

Further Information

Fostering IRO Leaflet