Complaints by and for Children

Standards and Regulations

Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care:

Fostering Services National Minimum Standards (England) 2011:

Important Contacts

Children's Commissioner for England
Sanctuary Buildings
20 Great Smith Street

Help at Hand - free, confidential support and advice for Children in Care, living away from home or working with Children's Services.

Tel: 0800 528 0731 (free phone number)

Piccadilly Gate
Store Street
M1 2WD

Tel: 0300 123 1231


For the child making a Complaint

If you are a child and want to complain, your foster carer can help you make a complaint as can your social worker or the Looked After Reviewing Officer.

You won't be in trouble if you make a complaint.

The person who the complaint is about will not be involved in the investigation of the complaint.

Your complaint will be taken seriously and you won't be in trouble if you make a complaint.

How and what will happen should be explained to you so you know what is going to happen.

Any action agreed should be explained to you.

Remember it is your right to complain if you are not happy about anything.

Your foster carer/social worker will guide you about what is a complaint and what could be an allegation and a safeguarding matter.

If you want to make a complaint about the fostering service, see: How Can I Make a Complaint against the Fostering Service.

It is important not to confuse complaints with allegations although there is sometimes an overlap. Any concerns in relation to a child who may be in need of protection must be dealt with under the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Children Procedures.

What a Complaint may be about and how a Foster Carer should support the Child

  • The foster placement;
  • The Fostering Service;
  • The Local Authority including the child's social worker;
  • Something outside of this, like the child's school/educational setting.

Your role is to:

  • Listen to the child, take them seriously and try not to be defensive about what they are saying;
  • Tell others like the child's social worker or your Supervising Social Worker - they might see something in the complaint that you don't;
  • Try to help the child sort out the problem;
  • Advocate (speak on their behalf) for the child where appropriate (like a pushy parent). depending on their age, stage of development and understanding;
  • Help the child to access the formal complaints procedure for the Fostering Service or their local authority;
  • Ensure that they get feedback on what happens.

Most issues can be sorted out informally and speedily through discussion with either the child's social worker or your Supervising Social Worker, depending on what the problem is. Sometimes, the Fostering Service's Manager may be the most appropriate person to speak to about the concerns.

How Complaints are Managed in the Formal Process

Stage 1 - Local Resolution:
At Stage 1, the complaint should be passed to the Manager with responsibility for the services provided to the child. The Manager will look at the complaint, and provide a response to you and the child, including what will be done to resolve the complaint. The Manager may arrange to visit you and the child to discuss the complaint.

The expectation is that the majority of complaints should be considered and responded to at Stage One.

Stage 2 - Investigation:
If after Stage 1 you and the child are still unhappy, you can ask that the complaint be investigated further by someone who is independent of the Fostering Service. They will produce a report for the Service with their findings of the investigation and any recommendations on how to sort out the complaint. A Senior Manager within the Fostering Service will write to you and the child saying what will be done to sort out the complaint.

Stage 3 - Review Panels:
Most complaints are sorted out after Stage 2, but in some cases, if you and the child are still not happy you can ask for the complaint to go to a Review Panel. A Review Panel is comprised of people independent of the Fostering Service/local authority and makes decisions about the complaint. The panel may make other recommendations for the Fostering Service to think about. At Stage 3, a Service Manager has to respond to the Review Panel's decision and any recommendations.

For local authority complaints you can contact the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman if you remain unhappy.

With regards to Fostering Services with either a local authority or Independent Fostering Agency you can contact Ofsted if you have continued concerns about the service.

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

Piccadilly Gate
Store Street
M1 2WD
Tel: 0300 123 4666

Click here for information on how to complain to Ofsted about a provider they inspect or regulate.

Click here for the online complaints form.

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

You can also contact the Children's Commissioner for England.

See also: Involving Children in Decision Making.