Disruption Reviews


This procedure describes the processes to be followed when a child's placement ends in an unplanned way. The term disruption is used to describe a placement ending in a way that was not part of the Looked after Child's Care Plan, either in the ending itself or in the timing of the termination. The disruption review process looks at the sequence of events and to learn from the experiences in order that:

  • The child's future needs can be met;
  • The carers can be appropriately supported to recover and learn from the experience;
  • Practice can be improved across relevant social work teams.

The review may include a Disruption Meeting, though this will not be required in all cases.

This procedure is new and was added to the procedures manual in August 2018.

1. Definition of Disruption Review

The term disruption is used to describe a placement ending that was not part of the Looked after Child's Care Plan, either in the ending itself or in the timing of the termination. Placements rarely disrupt as a result of the action of one individual but usually through a combination of several factors. Therefore, the objective of a disruption review is to look at the sequence of events and to learn from the experiences in order that:

  • The child's future needs can be met;
  • The carers can be appropriately supported to recover and learn from the experience;
  • Practice can be improved across relevant social work teams.

A review is a process not an event, and therefore a professional judgement is needed to determine whether to hold a disruption meeting as part of the process, or whether the relevant information can be collated and analysed by the chair of the review process.

A disruption review is undertaken by an Independent Reviewing Officer. It draws on written records, conversations with the carers and others involved in the network around the child, and wherever possible the child or young person themselves.

It may or may not include a disruption meeting.

A disruption review is held when:

  • A long term permanent fostering match has been made at fostering panel and has subsequently disrupted;
  • The child or young person has experienced 3 unplanned moves or more in the preceding 12 months.

When a child or young person's placement comes to a premature end, there will be a range of emotions experienced by the carers, the child or, young person and the professionals in the team around the child. It is particularly important to ensure that participants in the review understand that the purpose of the review is not to apportion blame but to learn lessons and inform future care planning.

It is the responsibility of the child's social worker to ensure that the Team Manager and Independent Reviewing Officer are notified of the need for a disruption review, which may or may not include a disruption meeting.

Convening and holding disruption meetings is complex, detailed and time consuming if they are to be thorough and achieve the right outcomes. Therefore to enable informed planning to take place and to reduce delay for the child and or carers a formal disruption meeting will only be convened in the following circumstances:

  • When a permanent foster placement matched at fostering panel with an independent fostering agency has ended in an unplanned way;
  • When a Special Guardianship arrangement disrupts within 2 years of the making of the order, and the child has returned to the care of the local authority;
  • When an adoptive placement has disrupted (see Disruption of Adoptive Placements Procedure (One Adoption)).

In all cases, the child's social worker and supervising social worker should be aware of any additional stresses in a placement or any emerging stresses due to changes the in child or family's circumstances or transitions. In these situations, a placement support meeting should be called to identify ways in which a possible disruption can be prevented (see Placement Planning Meetings Procedure, Placement Stability Meetings).

2. Format of a Disruption Review

A disruption review is a dynamic process drawing on a range of sources. It is undertaken by an Independent Reviewing Officer who will:

  • Identify significant factors leading to the disruption;
  • Enable participants to share feelings and information about the placement and disruption;
  • Gather information about the child to inform future care planning with a view to enhancing future placement stability;
  • Reflect on whether any diversity issues were identified, and how these may have influenced the outcome.

The Team Manager of the Independent Review Service must be notified within 1 week of the placement disrupting. The review must be undertaken within 6 weeks of the notification.

A template for completion as part of the review is at Appendix A: Disruption Review Template.

At the conclusion of the review, the IRO will analyse their findings, based on fact and evidence, and any recommendations made will be included into a SMART plan.

3. Disruption Meeting

If, as part of a disruption review, a meeting is convened then the following process applies:


Notification of disruption must be sent to the Team Manager of the Independent Reviewing service within 1 week of the placement breakdown and a disruption meeting must be convened no later than 6 weeks post notification.

Participants: The circumstances surrounding the child will influence the number of people invited, i.e. age, health of child, parents(s) circumstances and other significant people. The following should be invited as appropriate:

Chair: Independent Reviewing Officer:

  • Carers involved in the disruption and their Supervising Social Worker at the time of disruption;
  • Previous carers and their Supervising Social Workers for the duration of the Child's placement;
  • Previous Childcare Social Workers (or their manager) including child's social worker at the time of disruption;
  • Representative from Virtual School;
  • Health;
  • Calderdale Therapeutic Services;
  • Birth parents / family;
  • Other staff closely involved with supporting the child and placement, currently or previously and who can positively contribute to the discussion;
  • The child (if it is in their interests). If not, it is important that their views are accurately conveyed.

4. Preparation for a Disruption Meeting as part of the Disruption Review Process

The Chair of the meeting is responsible for liaising with the child's social workers in regards to issuing invitations.

The Supervising Social Worker for the carers is responsible for preparing them for the purpose of the meeting, and how the outcomes will be shared for both the agencies and carers learning.

The Chair of the meeting will be provided with:

  • The matching paperwork presented to fostering panel, and Panel minutes;
  • Carer's last review;
  • Child's chronology and minutes of last child care review; and
  • The minutes of any placement stability meetings.

In the case of a Special Guardianship disruption, the chair will also be expected to have read the above documentation and the Special Guardianship Order Assessment and support plan.

The Chair may ask for any other relevant documentation or attendance from relevant people.

5. Disruption Meeting Agenda

  • Introductions;
  • Apologies;
  • Purpose of the meeting;
  • The reasons why the child came into care i.e. details of the child's early life experiences and the circumstances why the child became looked after;
  • Child's history since becoming looked after;
  • Matching process, including diversity;
  • Child and carer's introduction process; including preparation;
  • Child's placement experience;
  • Carer's placement experience;
  • Placement ending;
  • Summary.

6. Disruption Review Report

The Chair will produce a brief report following the template (see Appendix A: Disruption Review Template).

7. Monitoring and Review of Disruption Reviews Action Plans

Disruptions and placement moves due to unplanned endings are monitored weekly at Placement Resources Group and monthly at Permanence Tracker Meetings by service managers.

Following a disruption review, the Fostering Team Manager should organise in consultation with the Chair of the review for the report to be presented at Fostering Panel.

The child's team manager and practice manager should also receive copies of the report to enable them to monitor case specific recommendations.

The Service Manager, Safeguarding and Quality Assurance will dip sample actions from the review minutes to check they have been completed on a quarterly basis, and include relevant feedback into the next performance report.

Practice themes will be reported on 6 monthly by the IRO manager to Senior Leadership Team who will agree on any subsequent follow up actions.

Emerging themes and strategic issues will form part of the annual IRO report to Corporate Parenting Panel and the Safeguarding Children Partnership.

Where complaints against carers have been made or emerged as part of the disruption process, reference should be made to the Allegations and Complaints Against Foster Carers Procedure. If, following a disruption, a review of the foster carer(s) is deemed necessary, this assessment should be presented to the Fostering Panel within of the disruption review.

Appendix A: Disruption Review Template

Click here to view Appendix A: Disruption Review Template.