A looked-after child (sometimes referred to as LAC) is someone under the age of 18 who is being looked after by social services

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As a looked after child you can have support from a person who is called an advocate, a person whose job it is to make sure your voice gets heard about the things that are important to you, and you receive the right care where you are living.

Your review is about...

...how the plans to care for you are going. This includes what is working well and what needs to be done to make sure you have what you need while you are in care.  If you’d prefer not to attend you still have the right to have your voice heard. This is something an advocate can help you with or attend on your behalf.If you are a looked-after child you will have regular review meetings which you’ll be invited to, where professionals come together to share information about you and discuss your care plan. 

What is a care plan?

Every child in care has a care plan which is reviewed regularly. Your care plan is made specially for you. It is a written document made by social services which says how you will be cared for. It has information such as where you will live, your education, health, religion, culture and contact with your family and friends. 

Listened to advocacy graphic

What is an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO)?

A reviewing officer is someone who will:

  • lead your review meeting
  • make sure you are able to give your views in the meeting
  • make sure that people actually do what they agreed to do.

Who will be at my review meetings?

  • You! (If you wish.)
  • Your parents and anybody else with parental responsibility will be there, unless there is a specific reason for them not to attend.
  • Your social worker.
  • Your foster carer or residential care manager and residential key worker.
  • Other professionals who work with you such as a school nurse, your head teacher, or a counsellor.
  • A reviewing officer (IRO) who will lead the meeting.
  • Your advocate (if you would like one).

If someone has parental responsibility (sometimes called PR), they help with decisions about your life. This is usually your parents or it could be the Tower Hamlets social services or both.

Where will my LAC reviews be?

LAC reviews usually happen in your placement home. Sometimes they can be at a different location, for example your school or a council building. You should be asked where you would like the meeting to be held if possible.

How often do reviews happen?

When you first go into care, there will be a review after one month, then another at three months. After this, reviews usually happen every six months until your 18th birthday, unless there are big changes happening in your life.

What happens at my  review?

This should be in a place where you feel most comfortable. Your independent reviewing officer (IRO) will usually have a chat with you just before the meeting and ask you what you want to talk about and if you have any worries. In the meeting there will be a chat about how things are going for you. It will include where you live, your education, your health and contact with family and friends. You should also be given an opportunity to give your views, wishes and feelings – this is something an advocate can support you with if that is what you would like.

Teenage girl smiling over coffee

What is the role of an advocate at my review?

You are entitled to have the help of an advocate at your review meetings if you choose.

  • Your advocate is there to make sure you have the opportunity to express your wishes and feelings.
  • Your advocate can sit with you in the meeting and support you to speak up for yourself, or you can tell your advocate what you would like them to say and they will speak on your behalf, or a mixture of these.
  • You are in charge of how you would like your advocate to work with you.
  • Your advocate can help you prepare for your review meeting in a place that is safe and comfortable to you. This way you may find it easier to know what you would like to say.

How do I express my wishes and feelings at my  review?

You can:

  • Speak out
  • Write your views down and read them out
  • Draw pictures
  • Make a collage
  • Use a talking photo album
  • Write a poem
  • Be as creative as you like – it's really up to you!

What if I get tired or upset about something that is said?

This is your meeting – you can ask for there to pause if you need a break. The meeting should not go on without you, unless there is a reason for you not to be in that part of the discussion. You can ask your advocate to make sure you get a break if you need one.

Advocacy rights graphic

Do I have to attend my  review?

Although it can feel quite scary to know that all of the adults are having a discussion about you, it is a good idea to attend if you can, so that you can be involved in the plans for your life. You have the right to be heard by those making decisions about you and to be able to have a say in what you would like to happen. However, you don’t have to go to the  review meeting if you don’t want to.

If I cannot go, or choose not to go to my  review, will I still get my say?

Yes, you can still have your wishes and feelings heard at the meeting by:

  • filling in the form which your independent reviewing officer will send you
  • asking for help from an advocate.

You will use one of these forms with Tower Hamlets social services, depending on how old you are:

All about me, for 3 to 10 years old or The Review booklet for 11 to 17 years old

Will I get to see the notes made at the meeting?

Yes, you will get a copy of notes taken at the meeting, and you’ll also be told the date of your next LAC review meeting.

What if I am unhappy about my  review?

If you feel unhappy you can speak to your social worker, or the independent reviewing officer (IRO) or your advocate.

Your advocate can give you information about your rights and make sure that your wishes and feelings are heard. Your advocate is independent, and doesn’t work for Tower Hamlets social services team. You also have the right to make a complaint, and your advocate can support you in doing this.

What if I am unhappy with the service I received from my advocate?

If you are not happy with your advocate or our services, please tell us so that we can sort it out. We are here to listen, and take you seriously no matter what the issue is.