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About the IRM Cymru



What do IRM Panels do?

Where you do not agree with the proposed decisions of your agency, the IRM can independently review the “qualifying determination” (see frequently asked questions for an explanation of this term) and make a new recommendation having considered all the relevant information afresh. This is not an appeal but the review panel recommendation must then be taken into account by the agency when a final decision is made by them.

What is a qualifying determination?

It is the term that is used when something has happened that makes you eligible to apply to the Independent review Mechanism (IRM), for a review.

Those things would be:-

  • You have applied to be a foster carer or an adoptive parent and the agency has said it is ‘minded not to approve you’
  • You are an approved foster carer and the agency wishes to change your terms of approval and you do not agree
  • You are an approved foster carer or adoptive parent and your agency wishes to de-register you.

What does, ‘minded not to approve mean?

That the panel and the agency decision maker have considered your application or review and believe you should not be approved, be de-registered or if you are a foster carer have your terms of approval changed without your agreement

They will send you a letter offering you the option to

  • Ask the agency to re-consider
  • Apply to the IRM
  • Accept the recommendation

Does it matter how long it takes me to apply to the IRM ?

Yes it does, this is very important as the IRM cannot accept applications after 28 days, (foster carers) and 40 days (adoptive parent)

Why might the IRM not consider my case?

They cannot do that if you apply outside the timeframes (see above)

You must have a qualifying determination (QD)

What do I have to do to apply to the IRM?

You need to apply in writing, giving the reasons why you wish to have the agency recommendation reviewed. It does not have to be detailed at this stage as you will be given the chance to send further information before the review panel. You can e mail this to Fiona.probert@childreninwales.org.uk

Does the fostering/adoption agency have to accept the recommendation of the Independent Review Mechanism (IRM panel?)

No it considers all the information, including any information you have shared with the IRM and the minutes from the IRM panel and recommendations from them and then the Agency decision maker (ADM) comes to a final decision. That is why it is a review panel rather than an appeal.

If the recommendation might not change, what’s the point of having the recommendation reviewed?

That’s a good question! What people who have had cases reviewed at the IRM have said is that even when they did not get the decision they hoped for they did feel they had had an opportunity to present all the information they wanted and be listened to and were confident that the recommendation was based on full information. They had also had a chance to be fully involved in the review panel and see the minutes which helped them understand the panel’s reasons for the recommendation.

Who makes the final decision re our suitability or terms of approval?

The agency decision maker (ADM) of the agency you applied to will do this and write to you. They will give you reasons for their final decision.

Can I attend the panel?

Yes and you can send information in advance of the panel for panel members to read

What sort of information is it helpful to send?

The information you send will go to the panel members along with the information that went to your agency panel. It can be helpful to explain why you wish to have the recommendation reviewed and the reasons why you feel your agency has not come to the right recommendation.

Do I have to pay for the panel?

No if you apply for a review, the agency you made your application to or who you are approved by will pay the costs

Who will be at the panel?

There will be a minimum of 5 panel members that includes social workers and those with personal experience of fostering and adoption

There will also be a panel advisor, sometimes a medical advisor, (they have to be present for adoption applications) and a panel secretary who takes the minutes.

Sometimes there are observers, such as people who are training to be panel members and the manager of the IRM service often observes the panel.

Will there be people there with links to my agency?

No, panel members are experienced people drawn from a ‘central list’. They must have no link with your agency or have had any link in the past year

What will happen at the panel?

Panel members will have had all the information in advance of the panel. They will:-

  • Send the questions they would like to ask yourself and the agency representatives to the panel chair in advance of the panel
  • On the day you and the agency representatives will be invited into the panel
  • The panel will ask you questions
  • The panel will then ask the agency questions
  • Both you and the agency will have the chance to add anything you think it is important for the panel to know
  • You will then be asked to leave
  • The panel will make a recommendation.

How many agency representatives will be there?

The agency is asked to send 2 representatives that is often the assessing or supervising social worker and their manager.

Can I bring a supporter?

Yes and they can accompany you into the meeting but they cannot speak

How will I know what the panel is recommending?

Once you leave the panel there will be a discussion and panel members will arrive at their recommendation and the reasons for that. If you and the agency agree, it is possible to let you know what the recommendation is but the reasons will not be shared on the same day. That is because it is felt to give a more accurate picture if you read the minutes which should show why panel reached the recommendation it did

Will I see the minutes then?

Yes they will be sent to you at the same time as the agency. If there is any third party information, (for example from referees that there has not been consent to share with you that will be removed)

How will I hear the final decision from the agency?

The agency will write to you with its final decision and the reasons why it is making that. They also have to let the IRM know what that is and the IRM shares the information on a six monthly basis with Welsh Government

Can I appeal about the IRM recommendation?

No, if you are not happy and wish to take this further you would need the advice of a solicitor about what your options are

Can I complain?

Yes if you do not feel you have been treated fairly by the IRM you can complain to the IRM. You cannot complain about the recommendation.