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Birmingham City Council (13 010 519)

Category : Children's care services > Disabled children

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 31 Mar 2014

Summary

A woman complains that the council delayed in assessing her son's needs. The son, who is 16 years old has autistic spectrum disorder with severe learning and communication difficulties that need specialist support.

The complaint

A woman complains that the council delayed in assessing her son's needs. The son, who is 16 years old has autistic spectrum disorder with severe learning and communication difficulties that need specialist support. He has a statement of Special Educational Needs and lives Monday to Friday in term time at a residential school. His mother complains the council repeatedly failed to carry out a proper assessment of his needs, despite apologising for not doing so. She complains the situation has continued for more than a year and is ongoing. She says professionals at his school are not able to cope with him on a two-to-one basis but that the council has left her to cope alone with his unpredictable violent outbursts at weekends and in the school holidays.

Finding

The Ombudsman found fault causing injustice.

Recommendations 

To remedy the injustice caused we recommend the council:

  • carry out a core assessment of the young man's needs within a month of the date of our report with a view to accommodating him under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 to make sure his mother is no longer put at risk of violence;
  • apologise for the further failings identified (the council has already apologised for its failure to carry out the core assessment);
  • write a care plan within one month of assessing his needs;
  • pay the mother £1,000 for the distress caused by its failure to help her cope with her son's actions despite her attempts to get help and the supporting testimony of professionals;
  • pay the mother £250 for the justifiable outrage its failure to reply to her correspondence caused her at a time when she was struggling to cope with her son's actions; and
  • review its policies and procedures to ensure it
    • deals with cases like these holistically rather than seeing them as matters for one service area or another;
    • prioritises such serious cases where there is a risk of harm or danger to family members; and
    • complies fully with legislative requirements.

Ombudsman satisfied with council's response: 13 August 2014

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