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Birmingham City Council (20 011 804)

Category : Children's care services > Fostering

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 15 Mar 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mrs B’s complaint that the Council is at fault in refusing to allow her to have contact with a looked-after child. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault on the Council’s part.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, who I will refer to as Mrs B, complains that the Council is at fault in refusing to allow her and her husband to have contact with a looked-after child.

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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. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I have considered what Mrs B has said in support of her complaint and the complaint correspondence she and the Council have provided. I have offered Mrs B the opportunity to comment on a draft of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Mrs B and her husband were foster carers for a child looked after by the Council. She says that, once the Council ended the placement, they were initially allowed to have contact with the child. She complains that the Council then decided not to permit contact.
  2. Mrs B argues that the Council is at fault in refusing to allow contact, and questions whether the child’s wishes have been given appropriate weight. She wants the Council to reconsider the matter and allow contact.
  3. We will not investigate Mrs B’s complaint because it is unlikely we would find fault on the Council’s part. Those who have parental responsibility for the child, or the courts, can decide on who should have contact with her. It is not for the Ombudsman to express a view.
  4. The Council has made a decision it is entitled to make and there is nothing to suggest fault in the way the professional judgement of its officers was exercised. That being the case, we cannot intervene to criticise the decision or substitute an alternative view.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault on the Council’s part.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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