Kent County Council (18 019 845)

Category : Children's care services > Friends and family carers

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 14 May 2019

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: Mr X complains for his grandson, Y, about the conduct of Y’s social worker and the delay in Mr X being allowed contact with Y. Mr X is does not have parental responsibility for Y and the Ombudsman cannot investigate without written authority or confirmation of his suitability to act on Y’s behalf. Matters relating to contact are for the Court to decide. In addition, complaints about a social worker’s professional conduct are dealt with by the Health and Care Professionals Council.

The complaint

  1. Mr X complains for his grandson, Y, about the conduct of Y’s social worker, whom he believes is not impartial. He says Y’s social worker:
  • has delayed contact between Mr X and his grandson for six weeks,
  • was late in submitting paperwork, which resulted in Y spending longer in foster care,
  • assessed everyone in Mr X’s family as unfit to care for Y, and
  • showed a lack of professionalism.
  1. Mr X is unhappy with the way the Council responded to his complaint.

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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 there is another body better placed to consider this complaint

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

  1. We may investigate complaints made on behalf of someone else if they have given their consent. (Local Government Act 1974, section 26A(1), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information Mr X gave to the Ombudsman in his complaint. I have also considered the Council’s response to his complaint.
  2. Mr X has had an opportunity to comment on a draft of my decision but did not do so.

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What I found

  1. Mr X complained to the Council about the conduct of Y’s, social worker and about a delay in him being able to have access to Y.
  2. The Council responded by stating that they could not accept the complaint, as Mr X does not have parental responsibility for Y.
  3. Y’s maternal aunt has parental responsibility following a Special Guardianship Order.

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Analysis

  1. From the evidence I have seen, Mr X does not have parental responsibility for Y and is therefore unable to complain on his behalf.
  2. Y’s aunt does have parental responsibility and she is able to bring a complaint.
  3. The Health and Care Professionals Council (HCPC) deal with complaints about the professional conduct of social workers. Y’s aunt may bring a complaint to the HCPC if she has concerns about the social worker.
  4. Issues relating to the Special Guardianship Order and rights of access are matters for the Court to consider.

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Final decision

  1. The Ombudsman will not investigate this complaint. This is because Mr X does not have parental responsibility for Y and the Ombudsman is unable to act without written authority or confirmation of his suitability. In respect of Mr X’s rights of access to Y, this is a matter for the Court to consider. Complaints about a social worker’s professional conduct are better dealt with by the Health and Care Professionals Council.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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