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Northamptonshire County Council (15 003 629)

Category : Children's care services > Looked after children

Decision : Upheld

Decision date : 25 Oct 2016


A woman complains that the council failed from 2011 to 2016 to find a placement for her disabled son, within a distance that allowed the family to visit regularly despite her having given it details of more suitable local placements. She also says the council failed to make appropriate plans for her son's current and long-term needs.


The Ombudsman upheld the complaint and found fault causing injustice.


To remedy the injustice caused, the council should:

  • apologise to the woman for the fault in its actions affecting her and her son;
  • pay the woman £500 to be used on her son's behalf for its failure to consider his wishes and feelings when making the placement in 2011;
  • pay the woman £1,500 for the significant avoidable distress and uncertainty;
  • pay the woman £250 for the unnecessary time and trouble of having to approach the Ombudsman because of the council's delay in dealing with her complaint;
  • consider whether to include a mandatory section on the wishes and feelings of the child in core assessments. If it chooses not to add a section, it should take steps to ensure that core assessments always contain the wishes and feelings of the child where these can be established and there are no child protection concerns that override such wishes and feelings;
  • arrange training for relevant staff to ensure that the use of s20 voluntary accommodation under the Children Act 1989 does not become compulsion in disguise;
  • arrange training for relevant staff to ensure that it avoids delay in convening Matching Panels and in holding Permanency Planning Meetings;
  • ensure it carries out statutory visits to children in care according to the timescale laid out in regulations under the Children Act 1989; and
  • ensure it complies fully with the timescales set out for dealing with children's complaints in Getting the best from complaints 2006.

The council should carry out these actions within three months of the date of our report.

Ombudsman satisfied with council's response: 13 March 2017.



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