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London Borough of Croydon (20 011 668)

Category : Children's care services > Fostering

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 31 Mar 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mr X’s complaint that the Council should not have deregistered him as a foster carer or remove a child from his care. It is unlikely we would find the Council’s fault caused the injustice Mr X claims.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mr X, says the Council should not have removed a child from his care and that it should not have de registered him as a foster carer. He says he has lost income and is worried he will not be able to foster again.

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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 would find fault, or
    • the fault has not caused injustice to the person who complained, or
    • 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, or
    • we cannot achieve the outcome someone wants. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mr X provided with his complaint, the Council’s responses to him and the Independent Review Mechanism’s (IRM) decision. Mr X had the opportunity to comment on a draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mr X, along with his partner, fostered a child, Z. In early December 2019, the Council ended the placement. Mr X did not agree with the decision. He says Z wanted to live with them until they were 18. Mr X complained to the Council in November 2019.
  2. The Council decided to ask its Fostering Panel to de register Mr X as a foster carer. Mr X appealed the Council’s decision to deregister him to the IRM. This is an independent panel of six people. Mr X had the opportunity to present his case and information supporting his view the Council’s actions and decisions were wrong.
  3. The IRM considered the case in January 2021. It decided by a majority of 5:1 to recommend Mr X be de registered.
  4. Mr X says this is wrong. He says the Council removed Z to save money. He says the Council failed to follow the required processes in removing Z. He says he is worried he will be prevented from fostering. He says he has lost the fostering income and has suffered time and trouble in having to appeal the Council’s decision.
  5. Mr X says the Council has not considered his complaint properly within its complaints process.

Analysis

  1. We cannot investigate the IRM’s process or decision. The Parliamentary Ombudsman is the appropriate body.
  2. It is unlikely our investigation could conclude the Council’s decision to adopt the IRM’s recommendation is wrong. The IRM has independently considered the case.
  3. It is unlikely our investigation could conclude that Mr X’s claimed injustice, (loss of foster carer status, income and need to appeal), is because of the claimed fault. This is because the IRM decided the Council’s decision to de register Mr X is correct.
  4. It is not a good use of public resources to investigate complaints about complaint procedures, if we are unable to deal with the substantive issue.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we could conclude the claimed injustice was caused by the claimed Council fault.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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