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Staffordshire County Council (20 010 156)

Category : Children's care services > Fostering

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 23 Feb 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Ms B’s complaint that the Council is at fault in failing to take action in response to her complaint about a foster carer. This is because it is unlikely we could add to the investigation the Council has carried out.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Ms B, complains that the Council is at fault in failing to take action in response to her complaint about 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 we could add to any previous investigation by the Council, or
  • 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 Ms B has said in support of her complaint and the complaint correspondence provided by the Council. I have offered Ms B the opportunity to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Ms B is a former foster carer. She says a current foster carer verbally abused members of her family and has made comments amounting to slander about her. She says the foster carer’s actions raise concerns about the children in her care. She complains that the Council has failed to take action in response to her concerns.
  2. The complaint correspondence shows that, in response to Ms B’s complaint, the Council has interviewed the two parties, and others who were involved in the incident of alleged verbal abuse. It upheld Ms B’s complaint in part, but does not find that there are grounds for concern about children in the care of the foster carer.
  3. We will not investigate Ms B’s complaint because it is unlikely we could add anything to the investigation the Council has carried out. On the face of it, the investigation has been reasonable in the circumstances of the case, and the findings appear defensible. There is no prospect that the Ombudsman’s intervention would lead to a different outcome.
  4. It is not the Council’s role to intervene in the relationship between Ms B and its foster carer. Rather, it is to consider the welfare of the children in its care. If it has no concerns about this, it is unlikely further action would be warranted. If Ms B believes she has been slandered, her recourse is to pursue the matter in court. The Ombudsman will not intervene.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we could add anything to the investigation the Council has already carried out.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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