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West Sussex County Council (20 001 685)

Category : Children's care services > Disabled children

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 24 Jun 2021

Summary: Mrs X complained the Council refused to assess her adopted son, Y, for direct payments or respite care. Mrs X also complained Y was out of full-time education since February 2020.


The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.


To remedy the injustice caused, we recommend within one month of the date of this report the Council has agreed to:

  • pay Mrs X £1,250 to remedy the injustice caused by the gatekeeping of its assessment process and the delays this caused, delays in the Council’s complaint process and delays in the provision of respite care, all of which caused Mrs X and her family avoidable time, trouble and distress;
  • apologise to both Mrs X and Y for the loss of education, loss of support, delay and distress experienced;
  • reassess the current respite care provided and determine if this is an appropriate level of respite for Y and his family in line with the Council’s policies;
  • pay Mrs X £1,800 to remedy the Council’s delay in finding a suitable school placement for Y and the subsequent missed education. Mrs X may use this as she sees fit for Y’s educational, social and mental health needs.
  • Within three months of the date of this report the Council should review its process for assessment following a referral to its Multi-Agency Self Guarding Hub team to ensure it is meeting its Section 17 duty for all children and not simply those who fall under specific criteria to prevent gatekeeping of its assessment process.
  • Within six months of the date of this report the Council should complete an audit or review of the educational provision available in its area for children and young people who have special educational needs or a disability to ensure there are enough places to meet demand.

Ombudsman satisfied with Council's response: 03 December 2021.

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