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Complaints about children's services

Children and Young People’s Services in Cheshire West and Chester provides a wide range of social care services to thousands of children and families.  We want to know what you think about our services, good and bad,so that we can improve them.

You can tell us about any aspect of the service that we have provided to you – about its quality or reliability, about the way that our staff have treated you, about the decisions that have been made.

We promise to treat you with respect and anything you tell us will be treated confidentially. We want you to know it is okay to complain and if you feel unhappy with something it is okay to say so.

How can I complain

You can complain in the following ways.

Complete the feedback form

  • Email: socialcarecomplaints@cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk
  • By post:
    Customer Relations team, Cheshire West and Chester Council, 4 Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, CH65 0BE
  • Telephone: 0300 1238123

  • or
  • By post: Independent reviewing officer/children’s rights officer, Cheshire West and Chester Council, 4th Floor, 4 Civic Way, Ellesmere Port, Cheshire CH65 0BE
  • Telephone: 0151 356 6859

Who can complain

There are a variety of people who can complain:

  • any child or young person who is looked after or who is a child in need or a child with disabilities
  • their parents or foster parents
  • an advocate acting on behalf of a child or young person
  • people applying to adopt, or who are having services from our adoption service
  • care leavers
  • special guardians
  • any other person who may have a sufficient interest in a child or young person known to us (this is at our discretion)

Please note: If you are making a complaint on behalf of a child or young person, we will need to know that they are happy for you to do this

What can you complain about

You can complain about any aspect of the service that we have provided to you – about its quality or reliability, about the way that our staff have treated you, about the decisions that have been made. Please note that complaints will not be accepted about things that happened over 12 months ago.

Formal complaint

If you make a complaint to us please remember that:

  • it will be treated in strictest confidence
  • we can help you with making your complaint
  • you will not be discriminated against if you have made a complaint

There are three stages to the complaints procedure.

Stage one: local resolution

Your complaint will be referred to a manager within the service to respond to you.  They will write to you, if possible within 10 working days of having received your complaint or by the latest within 20 working days.

Stage two: formal investigation

If your complaint has not been resolved  at stage one we will offer you a meeting with a manager to discuss any outstanding issues and how they may be resolved. If we are unable to identify a way resolve the outstanding issues we will appoint two people to investigate your complaint.

Stage three: review panel

If your complaint has not been resolved at stage two, then you can ask for your complaint to be looked at by a review panel

What will we do as a result of your complaint

We have to look at what can be done to provide a remedy to you for your complaint.
Here are a few examples of things we might consider.

  • an apology if we have done something wrong or upset you
  • an explanation of why we have done what we have done
  • a change of plan or care service
  • a reassessment of the needs of your child or young person or family situation
  • in exceptional circumstances financial compensation can be considered
  • sometimes we look at the work of a member of staff as a result of a
    complaint, but this work will be confidential to them and we won’t be able to
    tell you what we have done

Complaints and compliments 2014/2015

To view details of compliments and complaints received during 2014 - 2015 see the annual report below.

Stage one – local resolution

The majority of complaints can and are sorted out by the manager responsible for the services that you receive. They will write to you within 20 working days at the latest and tell you what they have found out and what action they intend to take.

Stage two – formal investigation

If your complaint has not been resolved to your satisfaction at stage one we will offer you a meeting with the Team Manager. If we are unable to identify a way to resolve the outstanding issues we will appoint two people to investigate your complaint: an Investigating Officer – normally an officer from the Council who has no previous knowledge of the complaint; and an Independent Person who does not work for the Council.

They will meet with you and with the staff involved in the complaint and examine any documents about your complaint. They have 25 working days to complete the investigation, though this can be extended up to 65 working days. The Investigating Officer will write a report of the findings of the investigation, and the Independent Person will give their view on whether the complaint has been correctly handled at this stage.

The report will be sent to you and to the Head of Service for Safeguarding.  The Head of Service will write to you giving their response to the report and telling you what they intend to do as a result of this report.

Stage three – review panel

If you are still dissatisfied you can ask for your complaint to be looked at by a Review Panel.  You will need to let us know what you are unhappy about and then we have 30 working days in which to organise a Panel for you. The Solutions Officer will appoint three Independent People who do not work for the Council to look at your complaint.  They will meet with you, the Managers of the service and the stage two investigators to review your complaint. This meeting will be arranged at a suitable location.

After the meeting the Panel has five working days in which to complete a report of their findings and make any recommendations to the Council.  This report will be sent to you and the Director of Children and Young People. The Director then has 15 working days to write to you with their views on the report and to indicate what action they will be taking as a result of your complaint.

This is the end of the complaints process within the Council. 

Non-social care comments, compliments or complaints relating to children and young people

The procedure outlined here covers comments, compliments and complaints that relate to the provision of social care services. Complaints made by children and young people or their representatives that are not related to social care may be considered under:

Who else might I contact

The Children’s Society Cheshire

Local Government Ombudsman

You can contact the Local Government Ombudsman at any time about your complaint. They will usually want to see the complaint go through all three stages before they get involved. They will decide if they think any further action should be taken by the Council once they have considered your complaint. They will let you and the Council know about their decision.

OFSTED

OFSTED is the government office responsible for regulating and inspecting local authority social care services, and others who provide care to children and young people. They do not investigate complaints, but they may be able to help you if your issues are to do with the standards of care provided to a child or young person.

Local councillor

You can also contact your local councillor. 

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