How can I make a Complaint against the Fostering Service

Standards and Regulations

Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care:



Current and prospective foster carers can make a complaint about any aspect of the fostering service which affects them directly. The Fostering Service will have a written complaints policy, and carers and prospective carers will  be provided with information on how to access this.

In the first instance, you may want to consider raising any concerns with your supervising social worker or a manager in the Fostering Service. This is often the quickest route to resolving issues.

You can, however, make a formal complaint straight away if you prefer.

Informal Complaints/ Raising a Concern

The Fostering Service will ensure that no person who is the subject of a complaint takes part in the investigation unless the registered person of the Fostering Service considers it appropriate. If the complaint is in relation to the registered person, a suitably qualified and experienced person who is totally independent of the Fostering Service, will be appointed as Complaints Officer to deal with the complaint.

You will not be subject to any reprisal for making a complaint or representation.

Complaints will be treated seriously and the Fostering Service will respond to them clearly and fairly. The process around a complaint will be explained to you, including the timeframes involved.

You should be given a copy of the outcome of the complaint and what action if any will be taken to improve  any practice changes and service improvements will be explained to you. Also there should be a clear outcome to the investigation.

The placing and/or host authorities are engaged as necessary during the complaints process.

If you are helping a child in your care complain or want to complain on their behalf, please see the Complaints by and for Children Procedure.

Tips for Making a Complaint

The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman offer the following advice for complainants:

Don't delay

  • Make your complaint as soon as possible after the event. It is much easier to remember all the details;
  • If you are unhappy with the reply, you may have the opportunity to take your complaint to a second stage. Again, do this as soon as possible and explain why you are not happy with the first reply.

Check what you need to do and be clear you are making a complaint

  • Make sure you are complaining to the right person /department. Your supervising social worker should be able to tell you who you need to contact to make a complaint.

Put it in writing

  • It is helpful to put your complaint in writing if you can. Make sure to write 'complaint' at the top of your letter or email, so there can be no doubt.

Be clear and brief

  • Cover all the relevant points, but be as brief as you can;
  • Make it easy to read by using numbered lists and headings to highlight the important issues;
  • Give your contact telephone and email details, as well as your address. Then, if the person dealing with the complaint needs more information, he or she can contact you and ask.

Provide evidence

  • Send copies of relevant documents – but only those that will help the complaint officer understand your complaint or provide evidence to support it. Make sure you keep copies yourself - you may want to keep any original documents and send copies of these with your complaint;
  • Keep notes of any telephone calls about the complaint, including the name of the person you spoke to. This may be important later.

Be clear about what you want

  • Explain clearly what you hope to achieve by complaining. But be realistic: your request needs to be fair and in line with to the problems you have had.

Be polite

  • Whether writing or speaking to a complaint officer, try to remain polite and calm.

Respond appropriately

  • Respond appropriately if asked to do so by the complaint officer. Read any letters and documents that are sent to you. If you cannot reply within the stated timescale, tell them why and ask for more time.

Be patient

  • It may take some time for your complaint to be considered. Don't be afraid to chase politely if nothing seems to be happening to progress matters;
  • If you are unhappy about a decision made by the service's Decision Maker or a recommendation made by the Fostering Panel you may be able to request a review by the Independent Review Mechanism. See Reviewing my Approvals and Appeals.

You are also entitled to get in touch with the regulatory body Ofsted. A complaint to Ofsted may be appropriate if you are not satisfied with the service's response after you have followed its complaints procedure or if you feel unable to contact the service concerned about this particular issue.

Complaints Process - An Overview

Formal complaints should be made in writing. The Fostering Service will always try to deal with this informally - see above section. This does not mean that you are not being taken seriously; it is because the complaint is more likely to be able to be dealt with quickly and to your satisfaction when it is dealt with in this way. This is known as a Stage 1 complaint. All complaints are recorded by the Fostering Service and the Fostering Service Manager monitors them.

If you are not satisfied with this, your complaint will be dealt with in line with the Children's Social Care Procedures. This is known as a Stage 2 complaint and an independent investigation will take place.

If the complaint has still not been resolved then an independent review panel will consider the complaint and the way it has been dealt with. This is Stage 3 of the process and it has to be considered by an independent panel.

What if I am still not happy?

Local authority foster carers can contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman if they remain unhappy.

Carers registered with either a local authority or Independent Fostering Agency can contact Ofsted if they have continued concerns about the service.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman

If your complaint is about a local authority fostering service, and you are not happy with the final outcome following the Stage 3 / Independent Review Panel, you can contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

Click here for the Local and Social Care Government Ombudsman contact details.


Ofsted inspect fostering agencies in relation to the  National Minimum Standards. If you have a serious concern about the Fostering Service, you can contact Ofsted. You can also contact Ofsted if you are not satisfied with the Fostering Service's response after you have followed its complaints procedure or you feel unable to contact the service concerned about this particular issue.

Complaints may be made to Ofsted as the Regulatory Authority. Their contact details are:

Piccadilly Gate
Store Street
M1 2WD

Tel: 0300 123 4666


Complain about a provider Ofsted inspects or regulates

Complaints form

You can also contact the Children's Commissioner for England

However, Ofsted will not be able to consider any complaints until this internal Complaints process has been fully completed.