How to complain about social care services
Make a complaint
Make a complaint using our online complaints form.
Your complaint will be dealt with in accordance with the requirements of the Local Authority Social Services and National Health Service Complaints (England) Regulations 2009. This means that, within three working days of receiving a formal complaint, we will acknowledge the complaint and offer you the opportunity to discuss, either by telephone or face-to-face, how your complaint will be handled.
Your complaint may be dealt with in accordance with the Children Act 1989 Representation Procedure (England) Regulations 2006. More information is available from the Department for Education website.
Access to this legal procedure depends upon certain qualifying criteria but this will be explained to you by the complaints team as appropriate. If you do not qualify to enter the legal procedure but still have a complaint, it will be considered under the Whole Authority complaints procedure.
There are currently 3 stages to the procedure which are governed by statutory timescales.
Stage 1 - local resolution
Most complaints are resolved at this stage. We aim to resolve your complaint within 10 working days and by 20 working days at the latest.
Stage 2 - investigation
If your complaint has not been resolved at Stage 1, or you remain dissatisfied, you should contact the Complaints Manager within 20 working days of receiving the response to your complaint. When you do this, please be clear about which aspects of your complaint you believe have not been resolved. An external person to the County Council will be appointed to investigate your complaint, along with an Independent Person to ensure that the process is open, transparent and fair. The investigators will speak with everyone involved in your complaint, including you, read all the relevant records and write a report for the Head of Children's and Families Services. You will receive a copy of the draft report for comment on factual accuracy. You will receive a formal response to your complaint within 25 working days. If necessary, an extension to 65 working days will be agreed with you.
Stage 3 - review panel
If you think the decision at Stage 2 is unsatisfactory, you can ask the Complaints Team for a Review Panel to hear your complaint. You must make this request within 20 working days of receiving the formal response and, if appropriate, the panel will meet within 30 working days of your request. Please try to be clear about what particular matter you want the Panel to consider. The panel will send their recommendations to us, with a copy to you within 5 working days of their meeting. The Director of Children's Services will then consider the panel's comments and write to you with a final reply to your complaint. This will be within 15 working days of receiving the panel's recommendations.
There are no further stages to the procedure.
There is a separate complaints officer for children and young people who receive social care services. These services, especially those for children looked after and care leavers are subject to particular regulations. Further details are available from the Complaints Team, or for independent advocacy, telephone the Children's Rights Services on 01305 251768 or free phone 0800 1218707.