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Thurrock Council (20 000 005)

Category : Children's care services > Adoption

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 10 Nov 2020

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman cannot investigate the Council’s assessment and decisions on whether Miss X should adopt two children. The Court decided this and we cannot consider the same decision.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Miss X, says the Council did not consider fairly her wish to adopt two children, Y and Z. She says it discriminated against her and did not consider their best interests.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We cannot investigate a complaint about the start of court action or what happened in court. (Local Government Act 1974, Schedule 5/5A, paragraph 1/3, as amended)
  2. We have the power to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we think the issues could reasonably be, or have been, raised within a court of law. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A(6) and 34B(8), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Miss X provided with her complaint which included the Council’s replies to her. I considered Miss X’s comments on a draft version of this decision.

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What I found

Background information

  1. Miss X fostered Y and Z for around 11 months. She expressed her wish to adopt them and started the adoption assessment. She says she was told everything was progressing. She says then in February she was suddenly told she would not be adopting Y and Z and they would be removed from her care.
  2. Miss X contacted us in early April while we had suspended our work due to the COVID-19 limits.
  3. She applied to Court. She says in May the Court refused her adoption application. She says she had applied for a request to make a direct application.
  4. Miss X says the Council has not properly considered her adoption application, nor fairly assessed her. She says it has not put the children’s best interests first when it removed the children from her care. She says it discriminated against her as a single foster parent.

Analysis

  1. We have no power to investigate issues which a Court has decided or is deciding.
  2. Here the Court decided to reject Miss X’s adoption application. We cannot therefore investigate whether the Council should have proposed her as an adopter. Its adoption assessment and application process is not separable from this. It is not possible to consider whether the assessment was a fair reflection on Miss X separate from the proceedings and Court decisions.
  3. At all times, the Court has to consider the children’s best interests. Miss X does not have parental responsibility for the children nor is she their current carer. She is not the most appropriate person to complain on their behalf.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman cannot investigate this complaint. This is because the Court has decided the crux of her complaint.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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