Foster Carers complaints procedure

Are you happy with the services provided by Norfolk County Council? If you are please let us know about it. If not then we also want to hear from you so we can help put things right as soon as possible.

If you feel that we have been unable to work together to come to a solution that you are satisfied with and you would like to go ahead formally with your complaint, you can complete an online complaints form.

If the complaint relates to services delivered direct to you from Children’s Services, please follow the Norfolk County Council Compliments and Complaints Policy outlined below:

If you make a complaint directly to someone in Children’s Services, they will send your complaint to the Customer Service Compliments and Complaints Team on your behalf.

Please note if you have a complaint after the outcome of the concerns or allegations procedure, this will enter the complaints procedure at stage 2.

Making a formal complaint

Stage One

When you make your complaint to the Compliments and Complaints Team, please try to give us as much detail as possible, including names, dates, etc.

We will acknowledge your complaint within five working days and pass your complaint to a manager within the fostering service. They will look into the issues raised and help us to respond to you.

We aim to resolve your complaint within 15 working days from the acknowledgement of your complaint.

We may decide that the best way to respond to your complaint is to arrange a meeting with you, but we will always 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, please let us know so we can talk about what can happen next.

Stage Two

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.

This will usually be a senior manager within Children’s Services who has not previously been involved with your case. Sometimes the investigation may be carried out within the Compliments and Complaints Team or through an external investigator.

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.

Stage Three

If, by now, you still feel that we have not been able to work together to find a satisfactory solution, the complaint moves to stage three where an independent investigation is carried out for the Chief Executive by either a senior officer from a different department, the Compliments and Complaints Team or, in some circumstances, an external investigator.

The findings of this investigation will then be shared with you, along with decisions on any recommended actions. This will usually be within 25 working days, but if we need more time because your complaint requires a more complex investigation we will let you know in writing when you can expect a full response.

Mediation can be offered at any stage within the complaints process as an alternative way to resolve a dispute, and before the complaint is escalated to a higher stage, if it is considered an appropriate way forward to find resolution to your complaint.

Taking matters further

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 directly to the Ombudsman at any time, although the Ombudsman usually only take action once the County Council has followed its own compliments and complaints procedures.

The Local Government Ombudsman can be contacted at: PO Box 4771, Coventry, CV4 0EH

Telephone - 0845 602 1983 (Mon – Fri 8.30am to 5pm)

Text - 0762 480 4323

Website - www.lgo.org.uk

Confidentiality

We will treat your complaint in confidence and only pass details to staff and partner organisations who need to know in order to investigate it.

Confidentiality can not be guaranteed, however where a vulnerable person is considered to be at risk and safeguarding procedures apply. In these circumstances, the County Council may have to share the information with other departments within the Council or other external agencies.

Note that foster carers who make their complaint public in the media may lose their right to anonymity.