Outcome Resolution Process for the IROs/CP Chairs


This chapter was updated in June 2023.

1. Introduction

The IRO Handbook sets out the statutory (legally required) duties of the IRO. One of the key functions of the IRO is to resolve problems arising out of the care planning process and ensuring that children have a permanence plan at the earliest opportunity.

Every Local Authority is required to have a formal process in place by which IRO’s can raise concerns. This is known as the Informal Resploutiom and Dispute Resolution Process. The IRO may bypass any stage and progress the dispute to the level s/he considers most appropriate. Within legal proceeding the Judge will scrutinise the IRO’s role and effectiveness in challenging care plans

Ofsted include in their inspections the effectiveness of the IRO role within the Local Authority. There is no statutory guidance for CP Chairs in challenging CP & CIN cases, therefore Knowsley has adopted the same process and timescales

This document seeks to provide guidance working for professionals with children, young people and families, building on their strengths to better manage the harm and challenges they face.

The management standards in this document have been designed to ensure consistency in practice across The IRO Service.

2. Safeguarding Quality Assurance Unit - Informal Resolution

Informal Outcome Resolution

  1. An Informal Outcome Resolution will take the form of a discussion between IRO/CP Chair and Social Worker/Team Manager in person, by phone or e-mail and it is a requirement that this is then recorded on the child’s file;
  2. By recording the discussion in this way the IRO/CP Chair can evidence that Informal Resolution has taken place, with timescales for resolution that can be tracked. Senior Management, Ofsted and Judges in legal proceedings may ask to see evidence of these Informal Challenges;
  3. If the matter is not resolved in a timescale that is appropriate to the child’s needs, the IRO/CP Chair should consider taking formal action ( Formal OutcomeResolution process). Within Knowsley it has been agreed the timescale should be 5 days but at this stage it can vary as appropriate but must not drift;


  4. As part of the monitoring function, the IRO also has a duty to monitor the performance of the local authority’s function as a corporate parent and to identify any areas of poor practice. Equally important, the IRO should recognise and report on good practice. This will be recorded on the child’s file as IRO a formal positive praise outcome resolution.

Formal Outcome Resolution

  1. The formal Outcome Resolution process should be completed from start to finish within 20 working days;
  2. The IRO/CP Chair has the power to refer the matter to Cafcass at any point in the resolution process;
  3. The IRO/CP Chair is responsible for activating the Outcome Resolution process, even if this may not be in accordance with the child’s wishes, but the IRO’s view, is in the best interests of the child;
  4. Issues such as resourcing or staffing limitations cannot be considered a barrier to resolution;
  5. The IRO/CP Chair should ensure that all actions are recorded on the child’s case record;
  6. The IRO/CP Chair may seek independent legal advice;
  7. The social worker may wish to have their own LA Legal Planning Meeting


  1. STAGE 1: Formal Outcome Resolution – IRO/CP Chair records a Formal Resolution on ICS with timescales for actions to be completed by, copying both the Social Worker’s Team Manager on ICS. It is at the discretion of the IRO/CP Chair how long they wish to remain at the Informal Resolution stage;
  2. STAGE 2: Formal OutcomeResolution – IRO/CP Chair records a Formal Outcome Resolution document on ICS with timescales for actions to be completed and copies in the Team Manager/Service Manager and IRO/CP Chair Team Manager. The IRO/CP Chair will end the Resolution on ICS when they are satisfied the outcome is resolved aiming for 5 working days to resolve;
  3. STAGE 3: Formal Outcome Resolution – If following the Resolution meeting or timescales for actions has passed and the IRO/CP Chair remains dissatisfied, the IRO/CP Chair escalates concerns to the Head of Service level aiming for 5 working days to resolve;
  4. STAGE 4: Formal Outcome Resolution – IRO/CP Chair, social worker, Service Manager & Head of Service meet with Assistant Executive Director who makes the ultimate decision of the LA. Should the IRO/CP Chair be dissatisfied by the outcome a referral to CAFCASS can be made – aiming for 5 working days to resolve;
  5. STAGE 1 – 4 cannot take longer than 20 working days to resolve.

Appendix 1: Outcome Resolution Flow Diagram

Click here to view Appendix 1: Outcome Resolution Flow Diagram