London Borough of Enfield Fostering Service

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1 London Borough of Enfield Fostering Service Comments, Compliments & Complaints Procedure May 2008

2 Contents Introduction 3 Foster carers complaints about the fostering service 3 Complaints about the service provided by foster carers 3 Allegations against foster carers about the welfare of a child in their care 3 Complaints about the service provided by Children Services to individual children 3 Appeals or representations about recommendations made by the Fostering Panel 4 Promoting Diversity 4 Comments and Compliments about the Fostering Service 5 Complaints about the Fostering Service 5 Informal stage 5 Formal stage 6 Investigation 6 Mediation 6 Review stage 7 What happens after the complaint is resolved? 7 Enfield Fostering Service Complaints Procedure 8 Comments, Compliments & Complaints Procedure 2

3 Introduction It is important that we hear people s views about our service and our standards. Therefore we want to hear their comments, compliments, and complaints. This will help us to know what we are doing well and what we need to improve. This procedure deals with: Foster Carers complaints about the fostering service Enfield foster carers and foster care applicants are able to use this complaints procedure to complain about matters related to their experiences of the foster care recruitment process, training courses, the assessment process, approval process, annual reviews and general issues related to the fostering service. Complaints about the service provided by foster carers Children or someone who is involved in their lives may want to make a complaint about the service being provided by a foster carer. This procedure does not deal with: Allegations against foster carers about the welfare of a child in their care This includes allegations of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect. Such allegations are dealt with through established child protection procedures. Where an allegation has been made against a foster carer, the fostering panel does not have a role in the child protection investigation but the panel must consider the outcome of the investigation and make recommendations related to the standards of care provided by the foster carer concerned. The panel may make recommendations related to, for example, further training, counselling, additional support, suspension or termination of approval. Complaints about the service provided by Children Services to individual children These complaints are dealt with through the statutory Social Services complaint procedure. Comments, Compliments & Complaints Procedure 3

4 Appeals or representations about recommendations made by the Fostering Panel Separate arrangements exist for appeals against the recommendations of the Fostering Panel concerning the approval of foster carers, the annual review of their approval, or the termination of their approval and details are given to all applicants or foster carers when they attend the panel meeting. For a copy of these procedures please contact Enfield Fostering Service. Promoting Diversity It is important that we ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access our complaint procedure so we must ensure that information about it is distributed widely. To achieve this we will: Produce a public information leaflet about the fostering complaint procedure. As with all public information this leaflet can be translated into a range of community languages. Include the public information leaflet about the fostering service complaint procedure in the information pack sent to all enquirers requesting information about fostering. Provide all foster carers with a copy of the fostering complaints public information leaflet. Check that all foster carers have an up to date copy of the fostering complaints public information leaflet at each annual review meeting. Distribute the fostering complaint public information leaflet at all information points across the Borough. Provide prospective foster carers with a copy of the fostering complaint public information leaflet at the end of their assessment and prior to attending the fostering panel meeting where their application is being heard. Comments, Compliments & Complaints Procedure 4

5 Comments and Compliments about the Fostering Service Sometimes, people want to: Comment, perhaps to raise a concern or make a suggestion about how we could improve our fostering services; Compliment, perhaps to highlight good practice in a particular area of the fostering service, or a particularly good piece of work by a member of staff. All staff should record comments and compliments and pass them to the Fostering Team Manager who will monitor them and feed them into our service planning processes. Comments or compliments can also be made direct to the fostering manager in writing, by telephone or in person. Complaints about the Fostering Service We understand that making a comment may not be enough and people may want to take things further through our complaints procedure. The procedure has three stages. Most complaints enter the procedure at the first, informal stage, though more serious complaints can enter the procedure at the later, formal stage. Informal Stage Any member of staff receiving a complaint should collect details and record all complaints on Form C1. This form is to be passed to the Manager of the Fostering Service. Where action can be taken to quickly and simply resolve the complaint, this should be undertaken without delay and the action taken recorded clearly on form C1. The Fostering Manager will complete complaint Form C2 for monitoring complaints. The Fostering Manager will respond to the complainant with a letter of acknowledgement within two days, confirming what action has been taken, or what action will be taken, to address the complaint. Where the complaint has been resolved already, the letter must include details of the next stage of the complaint procedure. The Fostering Manager will complete Form C3 to notify the Supervising Social Worker of the complaint and request details or action with timescales as appropriate. The Supervising Social Worker, on receipt of Form C3, will record brief detail on the foster carer s file (Form C4) and follow any action and deadlines detailed on Form C3. The Supervising Social Worker will return any information requested by the Fostering Manager by the deadline given. Comments, Compliments & Complaints Procedure 5

6 The Fostering Manager will review the actions taken and information provided and respond to the complaint in writing (or in person followed up in writing) within 15 days. This letter must include details of how to proceed to the next stage of the complaint procedure. The Fostering Manager will record the resolution on Forms C2 and C3. The Fostering Manager will pass copies of forms/reports to the Supervising Social Worker. The Supervising Social Worker will complete entry on Form C4 on the foster carer s file and file reports in Section 8 of the foster carers' file. Formal Stage Where the complainant is unhappy with the response to their complaint at the informal stage they should be asked to outline their reasons, in writing, to the Fostering Manager within 28 days. They must state why they remain dissatisfied and what outcome they were hoping for. On receipt of the reasons in writing, the Fostering Manager will discuss further action with the Complaints Officer. At this stage of the procedure, there are 2 ways in which we might deal with complaints: Investigation The purpose of an investigation is to review and evaluate the events that led up to the complaint and to recommend a way forward for the complainant and the fostering service. After the matter has been investigated, there will then be a meeting with the foster carer/applicant to discuss and resolve the matter. Mediation Mediation means someone not involved in your complaint assisting both parties to discuss the circumstances that lead to the problem and trying to reach an agreed resolution. The Fostering Manager will inform the complainant in writing of the proposal for considering the complaint and timescales for response. Following investigation or mediation of the complaint, the Fostering Manager will communicate the outcome to the complainant in writing. This letter must include details of how to proceed to the next stage of the complaint procedure. The Fostering Manager will provide the Supervising Social Worker with details of the complaint and outcome for Section 8 of foster carer s file. Comments, Compliments & Complaints Procedure 6

7 Review Stage Where a complainant is unhappy with the resolution at the formal stage, they will be asked to detail this in writing to the Fostering Manager within 14 days. They must state why they remain dissatisfied and what outcome they were hoping for. The Fostering Manager will ask the Fostering Panel to review the complaint and response made at the informal and formal stages, within 28 days. The Fostering Panel will make a recommendation to the Head of Service for Children Looked After or Assistant Director of Children's Services. The Head of Service/Assistant Director will respond to the complainant within 28 days. What happens after the complaint is resolved? We recognise how important it is for any lessons learned from complaints to be used to improve the services we provide. To ensure that this happens: The Complaints Officer and Head of Service will evaluate the issues arising from the complaint and make recommendations for service improvement; A detailed record of all complaints, lessons learned and recommendations will be brought to the attention of the foster care panel and discussed at the next available panel meeting; The Fostering Panel will ensure that recommendations arising from the complaint are implemented and monitored. Revised May 2008 P Stacey Comments, Compliments & Complaints Procedure 7

8 Enfield Fostering Service Complaints Procedure Informal Stage Complaint information provided to prospective and existing foster carers and across all service areas Complaint received and recorded on Form C1. Action taken to resolve the complaint taken if appropriate Pass Form C1 to Fostering Manager Form C3 passed to Supervising Social Worker Fostering Manager completes Form C2 and C3 Fostering Manager acknowledges receipt of complaint to complainant in writing Form C2 on manager complaints monitoring file Supervising Social Worker completes Form C4 on foster carer file and takes action indicated on Form C3 Report back to Fostering Manager Fostering Manager responds in writing to complainant and completes Form C2 and C3. Copies to supervising Social Worker for file. Formal Stage Complainant resolution communicated to complainant in person/in writing Fostering manager consults Complaints Officer and takes action Complainant provides reason in writing if unhappy with resolution to Fostering Manager Review Stage If dissatisfied, complainant provides reasons in writing and requests formal stage Fostering Manager asks Fostering Panel to make recommendations regarding resolution to HS or AD HS/AD responds in writing to complaint Comments, Compliments & Complaints Procedure 8

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