The Ombudsman's final decision:
Summary: Mr X, who is represented by his carer, Ms Y, complains that the Council failed to provide adequate support and supervision to him while he was in foster care. The Council has agreed to investigate this complaint. We will therefore discontinue our investigation.
- Mr X complains, through his representative Ms Y, that while he was in foster care the Council:
- Failed to properly supervise his contact sessions with his mother and sister;
- Delayed provision of therapy and life story work;
- Failed to provide timely signatures for holidays, healthcare and activities such as music lessons and the National Citizen Service scheme; and
- Failed to provide adequate support during transition to adult social care.
The Ombudsman’s role and powers
- 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’. If there has been fault which has caused an injustice, we may suggest a remedy. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26(1) and 26A(1), as amended)
- We cannot investigate late complaints unless we decide there are good reasons. Late complaints are when someone takes more than 12 months to complain to us about something a council has done. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 26B and 34D, as amended)
- If we are satisfied with a council’s actions or proposed actions, we can complete our investigation and issue a decision statement. (Local Government Act 1974, section 30(1B) and 34H(i), as amended)
How I considered this complaint
- I spoke to Ms Y and considered information provided by Ms Y and by the Council. I sent Ms Y and the Council my draft decision and considered their comments before finalising my decision.
What I found
- The Council placed Mr X, who has special educational needs (SEN), with Ms Y as his foster carer in summer 2012. Mr X turned 18 in 2019 and remained in Ms Y’s care. Ms Y complained to the Council about support offered to Mr X the same year. The Council did not accept the complaint as Ms Y did not have Mr X’s consent to bring the complaint on his behalf. Ms Y later wrote to her MP who encouraged her to complain to the Ombudsman. In April 2021 Ms Y filed a complaint with us about the Council’s failure to support to herself and Mr X. We asked the Council whether it had investigated the complaint. It said it would not do so because it was historical.
- We decided to discontinue the complaints Ms Y had brought on her own behalf as these were brought too late, and there was no good reason to investigate them. She then asked to complain on Mr X’s behalf, as his representative. Mr X gave consent for this.
- Mr X’s SEN mean he does not have the capacity to bring his own complaints. I therefore decided to consider his complaint. It is not his fault that his representative failed to bring the complaint earlier.
- We do not investigate historical complaints whether the investigation is likely to be impeded by the passage of time. In older cases we need to consider whether we will be able to gather sufficient evidence to reach a sound judgment. As a looked-after child the Council is more likely to have records of the support provided to Mr X than if he had not been looked after.
- I asked the Council if it would accept this complaint and it agreed to do so. Ms X is happy for the Council to investigate.
- The Council has agreed to investigate this complaint.
- I have discontinued my investigation as the Council has agreed to investigate.
Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman