A complaint may be made about anything relating to the functions of children's social care. Making a complaint will not affect your right to receive our services. Some complaints about children's social care may need to be considered under the corporate complaints procedure.
We aim to resolve complaints as quickly and informally as possible. If you are able to talk to your social worker, independent reviewing officer or the managers who deliver your service, this is often the quickest and best way to get a problem resolved.
If you are a young person, you can also contact the national youth advocacy service to ask for an advocate. This is someone who is independent and does not work for children's social care. They will put your views across to those who support you and try to improve things for you.
The three stage complaints procedure
Your concerns will be passed to the managers of the team that are working with you. Following investigation the manager will write to you to tell you about what they have found and what action has been taken.
- If we cannot respond immediately, we will send an acknowledgement within five working days telling you who is dealing with your complaint and giving a timescale for response;
- We will respond to you within 20 working days, or if we are unable to do so will explain why; and
- If we have made a mistake we will take action to put things right.
If you are not satisfied with the outcome at stage one, you can ask that we consider your complaint at stage two of the complaints procedure.
- Your complaint will be considered by two people independent of the Council. They will investigate your concerns and then write a report of their findings
- The report will be passed on to a senior manager in children's social care who will consider your complaint along with the findings of the independent officers. The senior manager will then write to you with their response
If you have been through stages one and two and remain unhappy with the way your complaint was dealt with, you can ask for your complaint to be considered by a review panel.
- The stage three review panel will consider whether the stage two investigation was carried out adequately and will focus on achieving resolution
- The review panel will not re-investigate your complaint but will reconsider the information that is offered
Once your complaint has been submitted
If you are not satisfied with the response you have received from us you can contact us again to see if there is any other way of resolving your complaint. If you are not satisfied with the final decision or the way we have dealt with your complaint, you can contact the local government and social care ombudsman to carry out an independent investigation into your complaint (see further details below). You can also contact the ombudsman for advice at any time. They will usually ask us to investigate your complaint first if we have not had the opportunity to try to resolve your concerns.
Complaints about independent care providers
If your complaint is about an independent children's home, you should contact them in the first instance as they will have their own complaints procedure to follow. If you are unhappy about their response and your care has been arranged and funded by children and young people's services, we may be able to look into your complaint further.
Ofsted inspects all registered children's homes. For further information and advice, visit the Ofsted website.
What complaints can be made about
A complaint may arise as a result of many things relating to statutory social services functions such as:
- an unwelcome or disputed decision
- concerns about quality or appropriateness of a service
- delay in decision making or provision of services
- delivery or non- delivery of services
- quantity, frequency or change in service
- attitude or behaviour of staff
- application of eligibility and assessment criteria
- impact of application of a local authority policy
Complaints about social workers
In most cases, we will not change your social worker, but each case is different and it would be down to the children's social care team manager to decide if it is in the best interests of all parties involved.
What complaints can not be made about
Where the following are intended, or are already in progress:
- court or tribunal proceedings
- disciplinary proceedings
- criminal investigations or proceedings
Other examples of when we are not able to consider your complaint:
- a decision that has not yet been made
- if you continue to complain about the same issue which has already been investigated fully
- it has been investigated by the local government and social care ombudsman
- if you became aware of the issue over a year ago
- the complaint relates to decisions or actions of another department (police or the courts, for example)
There are some complaints that we have to look at through different procedures. Some examples are:
- requests for services, for example referrals to children's social care
- insurance claims against the council for compensation
- requests for information on Council policy or practice
- requests for explanations of Council policy or practice
- matters for which there is a right of appeal
Time limit for complaints
There is a 12-month time limit for making a complaint.
You should make us aware of your complaint within 12 months of the incident happening or from when you realised you had cause for complaint. The time limit may be extended at the discretion of the complaints manager if there is a reason for the delay.