There is a legal requirement that a meeting must be held four weeks after your child goes into care (called a “looked after” child (LAC). If your child remains in care, there must be a second review no more than three months after that and then further reviews must be held at least every six months (or sooner, if needs be). These meetings include the professionals involved in your child/ren’s lives who will all contribute to say how they think your child is doing and if there’s anything that needs to be put in place to help them further. It is also required that the “care plan” for your child/ren is reviewed at every review and thought is given as to whether anything needs to change. This ranges from contact arrangements, to placement options, to legal status – anything which affects your child and you.
The people that you expect to attend is yourself, the other parent, the children if they are old enough, advocates for yourself and your children, chairperson (usually an Independent Reviewing Officer), minute taker, foster carer, foster carer social worker, the children’s social worker, social worker’s manager, any health professionals involved or therapists, education professionals and if applicable a domestic violence keyworker. You should know everyone at this meeting.
Government guidelines  state that you should be involved and that everything should be child-centred and focused on the needs of the child and the family. You should be sent a “Consultation document” which enables you to record your views ahead of the meeting. The Chair should also meet with you before the day of the conference to get your views and answer any questions you may have about the conduct of the meeting. If there is an issue of domestic violence, the social worker or Chair may decide that the perpetrator is not to attend, but they will always ensure that they have a voice via other means such as a letter/email. If English is not your first language and you need an interpreter, you can ask your social worker to arrange one. You can ask if a family member can translate for you, but that needs the agreement of the social worker and the Chair a few days ahead of the conference.
The social worker and Chair should also make sure you know that you can have an advocate with you at this conference. The advocate can be a family law solicitor, a friend, or someone like your community psychiatric nurse or key worker. You do not have the legal right to have someone there, but the social worker/Chair should make you aware that you can. It helps to have someone who can take notes, and generally those present behave better when you have an advocate present.
In LAC meetings you can raise issues about contact with your children, their education, health, foster care, safeguarding issues and any assessments needed.
You should receive minutes after each meeting, make sure these reflect accurately what was discussed and if not, you can contact the IRO and challenge them.