Making a complaint about children’s social care services

Compliments and comments

If you have a compliment or comment you can:

  • let the member of staff know yourself or tell their manager
  • send an email to childrens.services@hants.gov.uk. They will make sure that your compliment or comment is passed on to the appropriate people

Knowing when we get it right for you can help us to get it right for others too.

Complaining about social care services from the Children's Services Department

The Children’s Services Department is responsible for a range of social care services to children, young people and their parents or carers including

  • assessment of children's and families' needs
  • family support
  • fostering
  • adoption
  • childcare
  • child protection
  • caring for a child with special needs
  • young offenders
Things to consider before making a complaint

If you have any concerns about a service, please speak to the appropriate member of staff as soon as possible. You could also contact their manager to discuss your dissatisfaction. Most concerns are quickly and successfully resolved this way.

If you are still unhappy, you can make a formal complaint using the process below.

Things to consider before making a complaint:

  • do you have parental responsibility? Whilst we can accept complaints from individuals who are considered to have sufficient interest in a child, it may not be possible to deal with your concerns unless the child’s parent, guardian or carer has given their consent for someone to act on their behalf
  • your complaint must be capable of being investigated and relate to the Department’s involvement with a child
  • the complaints process cannot overturn a decision of the court or tribunal/panel decision. If you are concerned about a decision that has been made by the court that relates to a child, you may wish to seek independent legal advice

Children’s Services are only required to deal with complaints about events that happened within the last 12 months. However, you can contact the Complaints Team for advice using the contact information below, if your complaint is outside this timescale.

How to make a formal complaint using the statutory complaints procedure

Put your complaint in writing to the Children’s Services Complaints Team. You have these options:

If you prefer you can record your complaint on video, DVD, CD or audio tape.

If you are unable to use one of these methods you can make a complaint verbally by calling our contact centre. Phone 0300 555 1384. A member of staff will fill in the form on your behalf.

If you have a comment or complaint about other Hampshire County Council services, or wish to raise the matter with the Chief Executive, please see our corporate complaints guidance.

It is the role of the Children’s Services Complaints Team to manage the statutory complaints process.

What happens after a complaint has been made

Sometimes matters raised as complaints are more appropriately dealt with in another way in order to achieve a resolution.

If an issue or concern raised is going to be managed outside of the complaints process we will inform you of this in writing.

We aim to process complaints within three to four working days of receiving them.

We consider any issues raised inline with the statutory complaints guidance Getting the Best from Complaints (2006) to decide how best to manage the complaint.

Once the complaint is processed we will write to you to formally acknowledge the complaint.

If a complaint cannot be accepted within the complaints process, we will write to you to inform you of this and provide you with the contact details for the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) to contact, should you disagree with the decision made by the Children’s Services Complaints Team.

Stages of the statutory complaints process
Stage 1

  • Put your complaint in writing to the Children's Services Complaints Team (see above).
  • Please try to be clear and where possible include names of the people involved, dates when incidents occurred etc. Please be clear about what outcomes you are looking for by making your complaint. We cannot guarantee to meet your expectations, but being made aware of what outcomes you are hoping for will enable the manager to respond more appropriately to your complaint.
  • Once your complaint has been processed it will be passed to a senior manager who will investigate the issues raised and respond to you in writing within 10 working days, and 20 working days at the latest

Stage 2

If you are unhappy with the response at Stage One and before moving to Stage Two, you will need to contact the Children’s Services Complaints Team to make them aware that you are unhappy with the response and why:

  • you have 20 working days after receiving the Stage One response to make the Complaints Team aware that you would like to progress your complaint
  • a member of the Complaints Team will then contact you to try to establish if there is anything further that can be done to resolve your complaint at Stage One and they may arrange to meet with you to discuss your complaint
  • if we have been unable to resolve your complaint at the local level, or you remain unhappy with the outcome, your complaint may be progressed to Stage Two
  • at this stage an Investigating Officer will be appointed to look at the issues you have raised
  • a full response should take no longer than 60 working days

Stage 3

If you are still unhappy with the outcome at Stage Two, you can request to take your complaint to Stage Three.

You will need to contact the Complaints Team to make this request within 20 working days of receiving the outcome of the Stage Two investigation.

At Stage Three a Review Panel will consist of three independent people who will review your complaint and then make recommendations to the Director of Children's Services.

The appropriate member of the senior management group will respond to recommendations within 15 working days.

Once your complaint has been through the above stages, you have completed the complaint process.

The Local Government Ombudsman

If you are still unhappy with the way we have dealt with your complaint, you can contact the Local Government Ombudsman.

The Ombudsman will usually expect you to have taken your complaint through our complaints procedure first. However, you can contact the Ombudsman at any point during the complaints process.