Sign up to updates from Gloucestershire County Council

Get email updates

Complaints about children and young people's services

If your concerns relate to the well-being of a child or children living in Gloucestershire, these concerns should be directed to the Children & Families Helpdesk. You can do this at childrenshelpdesk@gloucestershire.gov.uk or on 01452 426565 during office hours (outside of office hours, the number you can ring is 01452 614194. This will put you through to an answering machine and you will need to leave a message and your telephone number. Someone will then call you back. Please remember that this number is only for situations that cannot wait until the next working day).

If you have concerns about the child’s immediate safety, please contact the Police on 101 at any time.

Gloucestershire County Council take all complaints seriously. We will do our best to seek resolution, learn from feedback and, wherever possible, improve the services we provide to children, young people, parents and carers.

It is important, for these reasons, that we are made aware of your concerns. You can give us feedback using any of the following methods :

  • You can call us on 01452 427388.
  • You can send us an e-mail at corporatecomplaintsteam@gloucestershire.gov.uk.
  • You can fill in an online form.
  • You can fill in a feedback form (these can be found in Gloucestershire County Council reception areas or can be sent to your home, by request) and post it to us. This is free of charge.
  • You can contact a staff member within the team / department about which you wish to complain. They will inform us of your concerns.
  • You can make a complaint in person, at our offices (please see the address below). Unless you have booked an appointment, however, it cannot be guaranteed that a member of the Complaints team will be available to meet with you.
  • You can send a letter to ‘Complaints Manager (Children's Services), Complaints Team, Gloucestershire County Council, Shire Hall, Westgate Street, Gloucester, GL1 2TG’.

The way we manage Children's Social Care complaints is determined by The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations. If you would like to find out more, the Department for Education and Skills (DfE) have provided guidance for local authorities on implementing the complaints procedures laid out in the Children Act. This document can be found at the following link : Getting the best from complaints.

If you are a child or young person and need help making a complaint, you can get in touch with Barnardo’s to request an advocate. Advocates are independent from the council and can help make sure your views are heard or simply give you advice.

Barnardo’s provide advocacy services for :

  • Children and young people up to 18 years old who wish to make a complaint about a social care service.
  • Children and young people in care up to 21 years old, or 24 years old if they are still in education.
  • Children and young people subject to Child Protection plans from 11 years old and up.
  • Children and young people with disabilities up to the age of 25. 

Barnardo’s can be contacted at 01684 850586 or by using this online form. You can also ask Childline for advice on 0800 1111.

Informal Local Resolution

Where possible, we will arrange for the relevant team manager to contact you to see if they can resolve your concerns informally. We will then get in touch with you to check that you are satisfied with the outcome. If you are not satisfied with the response you have received, we will then investigate your feedback as a Stage 1 complaint (please see below).

Stage 1 complaint

If an informal local resolution is not possible, we will aim to acknowledge your complaint within 2 working days. This acknowledgement will let you know who will be investigating your concerns, provide you with relevant contact details, and let you know when you can expect a response. Your issue(s) will then be looked at and we will aim to respond directly to you within 10 working days. The response time may be extended to 20 working days if the complaint is complex or if staff important to the investigation are absent.

Should you contact us while the investigation is in progress, wanting further information or concerns to be considered as part of your complaint, the start date for the investigation will become the date we receive that information / those concerns. This means the response to your complaint will be delayed accordingly.

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive or we have not sent a response within 20 working days, you can ask that your complaint be progressed to Stage 2. We recommend, so the momentum in resolving your complaint is not lost, that you request a Stage 2 investigation within 20 working days of receiving the Stage 1 response.

Stage 2 Review

Once your request for a Stage 2 investigation has been received, a Complaints Manager will consider your request and aim to send you their decision within 10 working days.

Stage 2 complaint

If your request to progress your complaint to Stage 2 is accepted, an Investigating Officer and Independent Person will be appointed to look into your complaint. They will be drawn from a pool of independent people who have worked for other local authorities in the South West region doing similar roles, and are not employees of Gloucestershire County Council.

It is possible that there will be a short delay in appointing an Investigating Officer and Independent Person if they are not available to start immediately.

The investigation should take 25 working days from the time your complaint is agreed with the Investigating Officer though, in some cases, may take up to 65 working days.

The Investigating Officer and Independent Person will both write reports, detailing their findings, and a senior manager will then write to you advising of the steps they will be taking.

If you are not satisfied with the reports and / or the letter from the senior manager, you can ask that your complaint be progressed to Stage 3.

Stage 3 Review

Once your request for progression to Stage 3 has been received, a Complaints Manager will consider your request and aim to send you their decision within 10 working days.

Stage 3 complaint

If your request to progress your complaint to Stage 3 is accepted, a Review Panel consisting of 3 Independent People will be arranged. One of these people will act as Chair. The Independent Person who considered your complaint at Stage 2 will not sit on the Review Panel.

The Panel records its findings and will notify you and a Director within 5 working days of the hearing.

A Director will send a response to the Review Panel’s recommendations to you within 15 working days of receiving the Review Panel’s report.

If the Review Panel has considered your complaint and you are not satisfied with the Director’s response, you can contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGO)

Once the complaints procedure has been exhausted, if you remain unhappy, you do have the right to contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGaSCO). The LGaSCO considers complaints about councils and some other organisations providing local public services. The service is free, independent and impartial.

You can contact the LGaSCO :

Further information on the process can also be found at www.lgo.org.uk.

Not all complaints we receive will be dealt with using the Children’s Social Care complaints process. If, for example, your concerns relate to customer service staff or are unconnected to the well-being of a child or young person with which Social Services is involved, they will be dealt with using the Corporate Complaints process.

Informal Local Resolution

Where possible, we will arrange for the relevant team manager to contact you to see if they can resolve your concerns informally. We will then get in touch with you to check that you are satisfied with the outcome. If you are not satisfied with the response you have received, we will then investigate your feedback as a Stage 1 complaint (please see below).

Stage 1 complaint

If an informal local resolution is not possible, we will aim to acknowledge your complaint within 2 working days. This acknowledgement will let you know who will be investigating your concerns, provide you with relevant contact details, and let you know when you can expect a response. Your issue(s) will then be looked at and we will aim to respond directly to you within 10 working days. The response time may be extended to 20 working days if the complaint is complex or if staff important to the investigation are absent.

If you are not satisfied with the response you receive or we have not sent a response within 20 working days, you can ask that your complaint be progressed to Stage 2. We recommend, so the momentum in resolving your complaint is not lost, that you request a Stage 2 investigation within 20 working days of receiving the Stage 1 response.

Stage 2 Review

Once your request for a Stage 2 investigation has been received, a Complaints Manager will consider your request and aim to send you their decision within 10 working days.

Stage 2

If your request to progress your complaint to Stage 2 is accepted, a senior manager who has not previously been involved with your complaint will be asked to reinvestigate the matter. They will aim to respond to you within 25 working days. If you are not satisfied with the senior manager’s response, you have the right to have your complaint considered by the Local Government Ombudsman.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGaSCO)

Once the complaints procedure has been exhausted, if you remain unhappy, you do have the right to contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGaSCO). The LGaSCO considers complaints about councils and some other organisations providing local public services. The service is free, independent and impartial.

You can contact the LGaSCO :

Further information on the process can also be found at www.lgo.org.uk.

Anonymous feedback – Anonymous feedback will be passed to the relevant department so that they are aware of the concerns, and can act upon them if necessary.

Child Protection Conferences Complaints about a Child Protection Conference, the outcome of a conference, or the way in which decisions have been reached at a conference follow their own process. Further information can be found at this link : Child Protection Conference complaints.

Comments, requests, and professional’s concerns - Comments, requests, and professional’s concerns are not treated as complaints under our formal procedure. They will, however, still be investigated and responses given.

We aim to acknowledge contacts such as these within 2 working days. This acknowledgement will let you know who will be investigating your concerns / considering your request and provide you with relevant contact details. You should then receive a response within 20 working days (for information, this is not a statutory timeframe and may be extended).

Compliments - We are always thankful to receive complimentary remarks. The staff member or team being complimented will be made aware of them, and we will also notify the relevant manager.

Information Compliance – We cannot deal with complaints about Data Protection or Freedom of Information requests, as these fall under the Information Compliance complaints process. Further information on this procedure can be found at the following link : Information Compliance.

Legal matters – Matters that are subject to legal action and differences of legal interpretation can only be resolved through the legal system.

One year time limit – We will not normally consider complaints made more than one year after the alleged injustice became known to you. This is because such complaints are often too difficult to investigate in a full and fair manner. Such a decision will, however, be made on a case-by-case basis.

Other authorities / organisations – If your feedback is not for Children’s Services, we will let you know who you should get in touch with and provide contact details, where possible. We will aim to do this within 2 working days. Your details will not be passed on by us unless we have your express permission.

Policy – Complaints about council policy or decisions we have made in line with council policy cannot be investigated under the complaints process unless evidence is provided that the policy / decisions have been arrived at incorrectly.

Schools – Complaints about schools (including free schools and academies) should, with few exceptions, be directed to the school themselves. Further information can be found at the following link : Complaints about schools

In instances where your concerns have been relayed to us by someone else (e.g. an advocate or MP), and they have received your permission to do this, we will treat the feedback in the same way we would if it had come from you directly. The only difference is that we will keep the other person informed about what is happening.

We will also keep other people informed regarding feedback received directly from you if this is something you request.

 

Help us improve Gloucestershire County Council

Don’t include personal or financial information like your National Insurance number or credit card details.