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The way we deal with complaints about some of the services provided by Children’s Services is set down in law, which means we follow the Children Act Complaints Procedure.
The focus of these complaints is the child receiving these services and the effect this has had on them.
The three stages and statutory timescales for Children Act complaints are:
When you make your complaint to the Compliments and Complaints Team, try to give us as much detail as possible, including names and dates. We will acknowledge your complaint within five working days and pass it to a manager who will look into the issues raised and help us to respond to you.
We aim to resolve your complaint within 10 working days, or 20 working days at the latest if it is more complex. We may decide that the best way to respond to your complaint is to arrange mediation or a meeting with you, and we will confirm the outcome of the meeting with you in writing.
Although we cannot guarantee to meet your expectations, being really clear about the outcome you are looking for will help us to respond more appropriately to your complaint. Most complaints are resolved at this stage, but if this is not the case let us know so we can talk about what can happen next.
If we have been unable to resolve your complaint at stage one, or you remain unhappy with the outcome, you can contact the Compliments and Complaints Team to talk about progressing your complaint to stage two.
If we agree it is appropriate to progress your complaint to stage two, an investigating officer will be appointed to look at the issues you have raised and to agree a summary of your complaint. We will also appoint an independent person to work alongside the investigating officer to ensure the investigation is carried out in a thorough, fair and even-handed way. A full response is generally completed within 25 days from the start of stage two, but can sometimes take longer. We will keep you updated if this is the case.
The investigating officer will send their final report to the complaints case manager who will share it with Children’s Services. You will receive a copy of the report with a letter from Children’s Services telling you what they are going to do with the findings and recommendations made by the investigating officer.
If you are still unhappy with the outcome at stage two, we can discuss with you whether it is appropriate for your complaint to progress to stage three. You must let us know within 20 working days of receiving your stage two investigation response if you would like us to consider escalating your complaint to stage three.
Contact the complaints case manager for further information. At stage three, a review panel of three independent people will review your complaint within 30 days, and make recommendations to the director of Children's Services. The director will then respond to these recommendations within 15 working days.
The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) can investigate complaints if you are not satisfied with how we have handled your complaint.
You can make your complaint direct to the LGO’s office at any time, but they will usually only look at your complaint once our investigations have been completed.