Are children being failed by complaints system?


The pressures on the complaints system for children’s care services are being highlighted in a new report by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO).

Some of the common issues the LGO sees in children’s social care complaints include failure to recognise a children’s service complaint, long delays in the process, refusal to go through all stages of the process and choosing the wrong complaints procedure.

The report adds to an ongoing debate in local government about whether the current statutory procedure for children’s services complaints is the best way to ensure effective outcomes for children and young people.

In addition to looking at complaints received, the LGO surveyed councils to understand experiences at a local level. Councils say that, at its best, the process is independent, has strict time limits for acting and has clear guidelines on who can complain. However, they also say the interests of children are often not central to a complaint because only a small proportion are actually from the young people affected. The process can be process-driven rather than outcome-focused.

It can also cost thousands of pounds per investigation to recruit independent investigators and panel members, with some councils suggesting this is diverting funds from providing vital services.

The evidence points to a children’s social care complaints system that is “creaking under the strain”, says Local Government Ombudsman Dr Jane Martin. “Councils provide crucial support to thousands of young people at difficult and often traumatic times so it essential that if things go wrong, problems are sorted out quickly and openly”, she says.

Councillor David Simmonds, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, believes that councils are committed to listening to the concerns of children and young people and that they will want to reflect on the findings of the report. “We recognise there are always areas that can be improved and we will work hard to make the complaints system easier for young people to navigate and ensure that issues are resolved quickly and fairly”, he says.

SEN News Team
Author: SEN News Team

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  1. failures in abundance at bexley council…complaints procedure is it even worth it? Cut backs, inadequacies, staff competence, very poor service


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