Children’s social care complaints procedure
The Children’s Act tells us how we should deal with complaints about children’s social care services that relate to a child in need; a looked after child; a child leaving care; adoption services and special guardianship. We have our own procedure document that details how complaints of this nature will be handled.
This procedure is primarily to consider complaints from or about children. There are some restrictions around who can use this procedure and what can be complained about (link opens in new window).
What happens when you make a complaint?
There may be no need to engage the complaints procedure if we can reach a resolution that meets your satisfaction immediately (within a working day). If this is not possible then your concerns should be managed in line with the procedure. There are three stages to the procedure.
The manager of the service complained about will consider your complaint and provide you with a written response, ideally within 10 working days or up to 20 working days if the matter is complex.
If you are not satisfied with the stage 1 response, you can request stage 2. However, our focus is to try and resolve matters for you as quickly as possible. We may consider alternative dispute resolution (ADR) where appropriate and with your agreement. This could be a meeting between you and the manager or another option to help resolve matters. Entering ADR does not restrict your right to have your complaint considered further if matters remain outstanding.
An investigator, outside the service complained about, will be appointed to lead on the consideration of your complaint and prepare a written report for adjudication by a senior manager of the service. An independent person will usually be appointed as well to ensure the investigation is full and fair. The investigation and the response from the service should be completed and sent to you within 25-65 working days. If the complaint is not resolved at stage 2 you can ask for it to be considered at stage 3.
A review panel should be held within 30 working days of your request for stage 3, to consider the adequacy of the stage 2 investigation and focus on achieving resolution where possible. You will be invited to attend. Following the review, the panel will produce a written report containing a brief summary of the representations heard and their recommendations for resolution. Within 15 working days of receiving the review panel's report, children’s services (usually the director) will consider the recommendations and send you a written response with any proposals that may be appropriate.
What support is there to help you make a complaint?
An advocate is someone who can help you to make a complaint and ensure your views are heard. There are various types of independent advocacy services (link opens in new window) available, depending on your needs. Details can be found on our website. You can also seek information from Citizen’s Advice (link opens in new window), your local Councillor (link opens in new window) or MP (link opens in new window).
For a child or young person who wants to make a complaint about children’s social care services, we can organise an advocate on request. Alternatively, a child or young person can request an advocate.
Other action you can take
If you are unhappy with the way your complaint has been handled, you do have the right to contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (link opens in new window).