Children services complaints

Table of Contents

We welcome your feedback, both good and more critical. If we're doing something well let us know as it helps us to do more of the things that are working well. 

However, if something hasn’t gone so well, we need to know so that we can put it right and learn from our mistakes. 

A complaint is a verbal or written expression of dissatisfaction or concern about the actions, decisions or apparent failings for which you want a response.

Complaints about children social services may fall under the statutory children complaints process, the formal corporate complaints process or another appeals process, for example, SEN Tribunal that is separate to the complaints process. The compliments and complaints team will advise you.

In general, assessments and services in the following areas can be considered under the statutory children’s complaints procedure:

  • Children in need.
  • Looked after children.
  • Special Guardianship support.
  • Post-adoption support.

Complaints that do not fall into the children statutory complaints process may still be considered and progressed through the council’s formal corporate complaints process

Please note that schools have their own complaints procedures

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Children statutory complaints process

The council’s children’s statutory social care complaints process adheres to the government guidance ‘Getting the best from complaints’, You can access the guidance document here. The process consists of three stages: 

  • Investigation by the children’s team (stage one – local resolution);
  • An independent investigation (stage two);
  • An independent panel (stage three).

Your complaint will initially be dealt with under stage one of the complaint’s procedure. 
When we receive your complaint, we will contact you within three working days to confirm receipt of your complaint and let you know if we can look into it further under the statutory children complaints process.  

Stage one

  • The manager of the service you are complaining about will investigate your complaint and will write to you with their findings.
  • To help them do this they may contact you to discuss your concerns.
  • They will usually write to you within 10 working days of receiving your complaint, however, it may take up to 20 working days if your complaint is complex. 
  • If there is a disagreement, a resolutions meeting will be offered in an attempt to resolve the outstanding concerns.  

Stage two

  • If you're unhappy with the stage one response, you should contact explaining why stage one response did not answer your complaint and what you would like to happen to put things right.
  • You can request a stage two investigation at any time, however, to keep the momentum of the complaint we suggest you do this within 20 working days from the date you received your stage one response.
  • An investigating officer (IO) will be appointed to investigate your complaint, and an independent person (IP) will be appointed to ensure that the investigation process is open, transparent and fair.
  • The investigating officer will write a report with their findings and recommendations.
  • A social care senior manager will consider the report and then write to you with their decision.
  • We aim to respond to you within 25 working days.
  • This can be extended to 65 working days for complex complaints which need a longer investigation.

Stage three - Review Panel Hearing

  • If you're still unhappy when you have received the response, you can request to go to stage three of the process – a Review Panel Hearing. 
  • If you want to go to a review panel hearing you will need to contact the compliments and complaints team explaining what you are unhappy about and what you expect from the review. 
  • You must make your request within 20 working days of receiving the response letter from stage two. 
  • In stage three a panel of three independent people look at whether your complaint was dealt with adequately at stage two. 
  • None of these people will have been connected with your complaint or know anything about the investigation so far.
  • The review panel hearing will be arranged and held within 30 working days of the date when your request was received by the compliments and complaints team.
  • You may attend the hearing to present your case, but you don’t have to.
  • If you decide to attend, you can be accompanied by another person who can speak for you.
  • The recommendations and notes of the review panel will be sent to the Director of Children’s Services within five working days of the end of the hearing, and you will be sent a copy at the same time.
  • The Director will consider their decision and will write to you within 15 working days of receiving the review panels recommendations 
  • This is the end of the council’s internal statutory children’s social care complaints procedure.

If you remain unhappy

If you are still unhappy or feel your complaint has not been properly dealt with through our statutory complaints procedure, you can take your complaint to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO). The Ombudsman investigates complaints in a fair and independent way - it does not take sides. It is a free service.

You can speak to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman at any time, but they would normally expect you to have given us a chance to deal with your complaint before you contact them. 

Making a complaint to the council

You can make a complaint about children services in any of the following ways: 

If you are a child or a young person in care or in receipt of other children’s services, and you are unhappy with the service you have received, you can request an advocate to help you to make your complaint.