How we deal with Children's Services complaints
Complaints about Children's Services can be made by:
- a child receiving social work services from us
- someone on behalf of a child receiving social work services from us
- anyone else. If this describes you, you would need to use the Council's own complaints procedure
If you're making a complaint on behalf of a child or young person they should be of sufficient age (usually 12 years old) and capacity to understand what is taking place, and to agree with the issue being raised on their behalf. We need their signed confirmation of this, and their consent for you to act and receive a response. Without this consent, or where the child or young person does not have sufficient capacity, we would be able to accept a complaint only from a parent with parental responsibility, or from a person responsible for providing their care.
A child or young person can also complain through an advocate if they wish to do so.
Complaints made under the Statutory Children’s Services procedure follow three stages:
When we first receive your complaint we will confirm this to you in writing and tell you who it is allocated to for investigation.
This will normally be the manager of the person or team who is the subject of the complaint, and they will usually respond within 10 working days.
If your complaint is complicated we may write to you and advise that it will take longer.
The response letter will tell you what to do if you are dissatisfied with the outcome.
If you remain dissatisfied with our response then you should tell us within 20 days of receiving your letter.
We will look at whether the issues can best be resolved by talking again to the team you have complained of, or whether your complaint should progress to the next stage.
At stage 2 your complaint will be considered at by two people:
- an ‘investigating officer’ – someone who works for the Council but not for the team involved and who hasn’t previously had involvement with the complaint; and
- an independent person who does not work for the Council in any capacity.
When we receive the details of your stage 2 complaint we will write to you to advise you of who these people are, and we will ask to meet with you and confirm your agreement with the issues to be investigated.
The investigation will normally be completed within 25 working days. If it looks like it will take longer the investigating office will talk to you about extending the deadline to up to 65 working days.
Once they have finished the investigation they will write a report on their findings and send it to an ‘adjudicating officer’. This is a senior manager who will send the report to you, along with a letter explaining what action they will take and what you should do if you are not happy with their decisions.
At stage 3, a review of the stage 2 investigation and outcomes takes place by a panel at a 'review hearing'. The panel must take place within 30 working days of receiving your request.
You will be invited to attend the panel hearing and we will tell you who will act as panel members and panel chair.
You can attend the hearing alone, or with an advocate, or you can send an advocate in your place. Alternatively, you can send something in writing if you prefer, but it is usually better if you or an advocate attend.
The panel will consider the investigation into your complaint and the investigating officer, independent person and adjudicating officer will answer any questions the panel may have.
After the hearing the panel will discuss all the evidence and come to a decision on whether the stage 2 investigation into your complaint was thorough and fair, and whether its recommendations were reasonable.
The panel chair will write a report and send it to you within five working days of the hearing. They will also send a copy to the Head of Children’s Services, who will then write to you within 15 working days and confirm whether or not they agree the panel findings. This letter will tell you how to contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman if you still remain unhappy.