Customer feedback

How to complain about children's social care

The Children’s Act tells us how we should deal with complaints about children’s social care that relate to:

  • a child in need
  • a looked after child
  • a child leaving care
  • adoption services
  • special guardianship

The following information will provide you with an overview of how we deal with these types of complaints. If you would like to see the procedure in full you can view or download our Children’s Act Customer Feedback Procedure (PDF).

If your complaint relates to other services we provide, it may follow a separate process (read - how to complain about our services).

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.

Stage 1

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. 

Stage 2

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. 

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 available, depending on your needs.

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.

Reasonable adjustments

The Equality Act says we should make reasonable adjustments if you have a disability that would make it difficult for you to make a complaint. This is called making reasonable adjustments.

Find out more about reasonable adjustments.

Other support

You can also:

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.

Send us a comment, compliment or complaint

View easy read complaints page

View or download our easy read feedback form (PDF) and send to once completed.