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Cheshire West & Chester Council (21 002 725)

Category : Children's care services > Fostering

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 19 Jul 2021

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: We will not investigate Mrs X’s complaint about the Council’s decisions on a looked after child’s care. It is unlikely we would find significant fault causing Mrs X direct injustice.

The complaint

  1. The complainant, whom I shall call Mrs X, complains about the Council’s children services team’s decision on the care of a looked after child, Z.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’, which we call ‘fault’. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse effect on the person making the complaint, which we call ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We do not start an investigation if we decide the tests set out in our Assessment Code are not met. (Local Government Act 1974, section 24A(6), as amended)
  2. We cannot question whether a council’s decision is right or wrong simply because the complainant disagrees with it. We must consider whether there was fault in the way the decision was reached. (Local Government Act 1974, section 34(3), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered information provided by Mrs X and the Council, which included its full reply to Mrs X.
  2. I considered the Ombudsman’s Assessment Code.
  3. I considered Mrs X’s comments on a draft version of this decision.

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My assessment

  1. Mrs X fostered a child, Z for three years. The Council then decided to move Z to another placement where it planned to keep Z for the long term. Mrs X says the Council officers told her Mrs X would remain an important part of Z’s life. She does not feel this has happened. She says she has had very limited telephone contact and letter box contact has not happened.
  2. Mrs X complained to the Council.
  3. The Council relied in detailed. It confirmed that:

“It is the responsibility of the Local Authority to make decisions that are in the best interest of the child and that the placement will meet their needs throughout their childhood and beyond, providing security and opportunity to achieve in adulthood. It is recognised that at times their will be disagreement when weighing up the complexities and considering all options for permanency, however it is vital that the needs of the child are at the centre of the decisions made.”

  1. It is unlikely our investigation would find fault with the Council’s decisions on Z’s care and contact in so far as they directly affect Mrs X. As Z’s corporate parent the Council has to make decisions which are in Z’s interests. Any foster carer’s wishes and needs are secondary to this.

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Final decision

  1. We will not investigate this complaint. This is because it is unlikely we would find fault in the Council’s professional decisions on a child’s care which directly affect Mrs X.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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