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Cumbria County Council (18 015 601)

Category : Children's care services > Fostering

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 21 Feb 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms A’s complaint that the Council was at fault in how it assessed her application to become a foster carer. This is because it is unlikely investigation would achieve anything significant for Ms A, or lead to a different outcome.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Ms A, complains that the Council was at fault in how it assessed her application to become a foster carer.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe it is unlikely further investigation will lead to a different outcome. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered what Mrs A has said in support of her complaint.

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What I found

  1. Ms A applied to the Council to be assessed as a potential foster carer. She complains about the social worker who assessed her and produced a draft report for submission to the Council’s fostering panel. The report did not recommend approval of her application. Ms A says the report was inaccurate and that the social worker declined to meet to discuss it with her. She feels the social worker bullied her into withdrawing her application.
  2. The Ombudsman will not investigate Ms A’s complaint because it is unlikely that investigation would lead to a different outcome, or achieve anything significant for her. Ms A chose not to allow her application to proceed to the Council’s fostering panel, which would have given her the opportunity to challenge the content of the social worker’s report and make her case for approval as a foster carer.
  3. If the panel made an adverse decision. Ms A would have had the right to refer the matter to the Independent Review Mechanism. That was the appropriate way to challenge the social worker’s conclusions. It was for Ms A to decide whether to do so but the Ombudsman would expect such recourse to be used where it exists. It is not for the Ombudsman to comment on a person’s suitability for approval as a foster carer while that recourse exists, and there is therefore nothing to be gained from the Ombudsman’s involvement.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely that investigation would achieve anything significant for Ms A, or lead to a different outcome.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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