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Category : Children's care services > Friends and family carers

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 08 Dec 2016

Summary

A woman complains the council has refused to accept that in November 2010 it placed three siblings in her care following concerns that their mother was no longer able to provide them with suitable care, making the children looked after children, and the woman a 'family and friends' foster carer.

The complaint

From late December 2010 one of the children has continued to live with the woman, but she complains the council has failed to provide both the child and the woman with appropriate support, including financial support.

Finding

The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.

Recommendations

To remedy the injustice caused, the council has agreed to:

  • apologise to the woman and the child for the failings we have identified;

  • pay the woman as if she had been a family and friends foster carer (less any state benefits provided to her for the children) for three children from 29 November 2010 to 22 December 2010 and for one child from 23 December 2010 to the present day;

  • pay the woman £300 for the additional initial costs of caring for three children in November 2010 to reimburse her for such items as bedding, clothes and her petrol expenses when ensuring the children kept attending their school many miles away;

  • pay the woman £500 for the legal advice she obtained in 2013 and 2014 for the Special Guardianship Order;

  • meet with the woman to decide a way forward regarding parental responsibility and check if she still wishes to pursue a Special Guardianship Order;

  • pay her £500 for the frustration and time and trouble caused by the Council not resolving her complaint sooner given she had complained for many years;

  • ensure in future if it is involved in the arrangements for a child to be cared for by a private family arrangement that it ensures all parties are aware of the nature of the arrangement and where financial support may come from. It should also ensure proper records are made of this explanation so it is not in dispute. This will allow the carer to make an informed decision about whether to accept a child on a private arrangement;

  • ensure it properly records requests for section 17 child in need support and how it assessed the situation before refusing to provide support; and

  • hold a management review to look at the impact of our findings on the decisions and placements made for the two older children. The children and their carers may have been adversely affected by the council’s wrong assumption that it was a private family arrangement. The council should assess if any injustice was caused and suggest an appropriate remedy for the carers and the children. It should report back to us with its findings.

Ombudsman satisfied with council's response: 28 July 2017

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