Independent Review of Children’s Social Care Services

Date published: 21 January 2022

Last updated: 27 April 2022


In October 2021 Minister Swann agreed to undertake a fundamental review of children’s social care services. 

Starting in February 2022, the Review is expected to take 16 months to complete.


Children’s Social Care Services (Children’s Services) have operated without fundamental review for more than a decade and have faced one of the most challenging periods in their history, as a result of the ongoing global health pandemic.  However, the scale of the challenge experienced by Children’s Services, both in terms of volume and complexity of case work, predates the pandemic.

The Review will be a fundamental examination of Children’s Services, with a focus on quality, equity, resilience and sustainability to ensure that Children’s Services are:

  • capable of responding to current and potential future demand/pressures and the level and complexity of need;
  • effectively meeting the needs of the children, young people and families with a range of vulnerabilities and sufficiently and supportively engaging them in decisions affecting their lives; and
  • adequately supporting staff and carers in the exercise of their statutory and other duties and in the course of their caring responsibilities.

The Review will extend in scope to all five Health and Social Care Trusts. It will include within its scope a number of services provided on a regional basis.

The full range of services that will be subject to review are listed in the Terms of Reference.

The Review will be chaired by Professor Ray Jones. Professor Jones will act as independent lead reviewer and will author the Review report. The Chair will be assisted by an Advisory Panel, made up a number of experts in this field.  They are: Her Honour Judge Patricia Smyth, Professor Pat Dolan and Marie Roulston, OBE, a former Director of Children’s Services in Northern Ireland.

The Review will engage children and young people and parents/carers throughout. Engagement will be facilitated by VOYPIC (The Voice of Young People in Care) and CiNi (Children in Northern Ireland) on behalf of the Review Team. Further mechanisms will be put in place to enable the Team to engage front-line practitioners.

The Independent Review of Children’s services is available on the interim CSCS NI Review website.

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