Complaints

If you have a complaint about a member of our staff, or our procedures, then the information below details our procedure.

Complaints about children's social care, including complaints about social workers, are classed as statutory complaints.

We will aim to deal with your complaint as quickly as possible and hope that most of these can be resolved informally with your social worker, link worker or carer.

Please contact us  and we will be in touch about what happens next.

Tel: 0191 561 7997
Email:  complaints.children@sunderland.gov.uk

We will aim to deal with your complaint as quickly as possible and hope that most of these can be resolved informally. If this is not possible, or you would like someone else to deal with your concerns we will go through the following stages.

Complaints Process

Stage 1
A manager from the service will be asked to investigate and respond to your concerns. You may be invited to meet with this manager as part of this process. Either way you will receive a written response within 10 working days of making your complaint. If your complaint is complicated it may take longer than 10 working days but if this is the case we will contact you to agree to an extension.

Stage 2
If you are not satisfied with the Stage 1 response you are entitled to ask the Children’s Services Complaints Manager to progress your complaint to Stage 2 of the procedure. An Investigating Officer will be appointed to investigate your complaint in full and an Independent Person (someone not employed by the Local Authority) will also be appointed to ensure that the investigation has been conducted thoroughly and fairly and in accordance with DfE regulations.

The Investigating Officer and Independent Officer will both produce reports within 25 working days of meeting with you to discuss your concerns. This may be extended to 65 working days if necessary. The Head of Safeguarding will then provide you with a written response to your complaint based on the outcome of the Investigation. This is called an adjudication letter.

Stage 3
If you still remain dissatisfied after receiving your response from the Head of Safeguarding you can ask the Children's Services Complaints Manager to arrange a Stage 3 Review Panel, which should take place within 20 working days of your request. This is a review of the Stage 2 investigation into your complaint by a panel made up of 3 people independent of the Local Authority (panel members).

You will be invited to attend the Panel hearing to have your say. Also present will also be the Stage 2 Investigating Officer, Independent Person, Head of Safeguarding and Children's Services Complaints Manager. The Review Panel members will produce a report of their findings for the Executive Director of Children's Services. The Executive Director of Children's Services will then write to you with his response.

If, after going through Stages 1 to 3, you are still not satisfied with the council's response you can take your complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.

 

What to do if you are a child or young person and you have a complaint about someone who supports you?

You should try to sort out any complaint you have first with your social worker, link worker, or carer. If they have been unable to help you, or you do not want to talk about your complaint with them, you should contact the Children's Services Complaints Manager who will then help you with your complaint.

The Children's Services Complaints Manager can also get you an advocate from Action for Children to help you make your complaint.  You can contact the Complaints Manager by telephone or email:

Tel: 0191 561 7997
Email:  complaints.children@sunderland.gov.uk

There are three stages to deal with your complaint:

Stage 1
We will get a manager to look into your complaint and agree a way to sort it out with you. You will get a letter from that manager telling you what has been agreed. This might take up to 10 working days.

Stage 2
If you are still not happy you can ask the CS Complaints Manager or your advocate to take your complaint to Stage 2. The CS Complaints Manager will find an Investigating Officer and Independent Person (someone who does not work for the Council) to investigate your complaint.

When they have finished their investigation the Head of Safeguarding will write to you telling you what Children's Services are going to do about your complaint. This should only take up to 25 working days but can take up to 65 working days for more complicated complaints.

Stage 3
If you do not think that the Stage 2 investigation was very good and didn't deal with your complaint you can ask the CS Complaints Manager or your advocate to go to Stage 3, which is a Review Panel. This is where 3 independent people who have not had anything to do with your complaint before meet with you to find out why you are still unhappy and what you think should be done to sort your problem out. You can take your advocate to this meeting if you want, or a friend or relative.

The Stage 2 Investigating officer, Independent Person, Children's Services Complaints Manager and Head of Safeguarding will also be invited to this meeting.

If you are still not happy you or your advocate can contact the Local Government Ombudsman to see if they can look at your complaint.

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