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Children's social care complaints process

Children's Social Care Services is responsible for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in need and children in care.

We believe that everyone who comes into contact with Children's Social Care Services should:

  • Be treated fairly, with understanding and respect
  • Receive the best possible service that is responsive and appropriate to their needs
  • Receive clear information about the standards our services should meet
  • Be able to obtain information and access services (if applicable) easily
  • Have the opportunity to take part in making services better.


If you have a compliment about Children’s Social Care Services, please let us know! It could be about a service, team or a particular member of staff. Children’s Social Care Services aims to work in a way that takes account of compliments. These can affect the decisions we make about the services we provide. It is also good for our staff to receive positive feedback and to be told they are appreciated.  


If you have a comment about Children’s Social Care Services, please let us know! A comment may be regarded as a suggestion or idea for how we can improve our service. It can be an enquiry, representation or statement of a formal nature regarding matters such as the availability, delivery or nature of services. Comments will not necessarily be critical. They can be taken into account when assessing the quality of a service provided, but are not usually viewed as a complaint.  

They may be critical, but if the service user or carer does not wish to go through the formal complaints procedure, it is still worthwhile giving us your comments.


The following process is for complaints about Children’s Social Care Services only. If you have a complaint against Children’s Service, but you are not involved in social care (for example, school admissions or special educational needs), please visit the general Comments, Compliments and Complaints page.

The Children’s Social Care Services process is based on The Children Act 1989 Representations Procedure Regulations (2006). The Department for Education has provided guidance to understanding the legislation and complaints process called ‘Getting the Best from Complaints’.

A complaint is any verbal or written expression of dissatisfaction or disquiet about the actions, decisions or apparent failings of the service, which requires a response. 

You may consider:

  • You have not been treated with courtesy and fairness
  • You are unhappy about the action taken by Children’s Social Care Services
  • You are unhappy about the standard of service you have received
  • Children’s Social Care Services have failed to provide a service to which you are entitled

We take feedback about our services seriously. We will use your feedback to help improve the services we provide, so it is important you let us know if you are unhappy with a service, so we can learn from it.

The complaints process follows the three stages listed below: 

Stage 1 Complaints - Informal Resolution 

You will be sent a letter within two working days to let you know your complaint has been received by the council and who will be looking into the issues you have raised. You should then receive a full response within 10 working days. (If the complaint is detailed or if an advocate is required, a further 10 working days can be added.)If there is disagreement, a resolution meeting will be offered in an attempt to resolve the outstanding concerns. Mediation and conflict resolution will be considered at this stage and all stages of the complaints process. 

Stage 2 Complaints - Formal Investigation

If you are unhappy with the Stage 1 response, you can write to the Children’s Customer Care and Complaints Manager explaining why you feel the Stage 1 response did not answer your complaint.

If there is agreement, the Children’s Customer Care and Complaints Manager will arrange for the complaints to be independently investigated. 

An Investigating Officer will be appointed to conduct an investigation and an Independent Person who will oversee the process and ensure that it is carried out fairly. The Investigating Officer and Independent Person will each write a report, which will be used as the basis for the response to you. 

The Director of Targeted and Specialist Children and Families Services will aim to write to you within 25 working days from the date the Statement of Complaint is agreed (this can be extended to a maximum of 65 working days if there is agreement). 

Stage 3 Complaints - Review Panel

If you are unhappy with the Stage 2 response, you can write to the Children’s Customer Care and Complaints Manager and ask for the complaint to go before a Review Panel, explaining why you feel the Stage 2 response did not answer your complaint. You must ask for this within 20 working days of receiving the Stage 2 response. If there is agreement the Children’s Customer Care and Complaints Manager will arrange for the complaint to be reviewed.

The Review Panel will normally meet within 30 working days of your request and will be made up of three independent panel members, one of whom will chair the meeting. You can also ask your advocate, relative or a friend to speak on your behalf.

The Review Panel will send their recommendations to you and the Director of Children’s Services within five working days of the meeting.

The Director of Children's Services will send you a letter with the final decision within 15 working days of receiving the Review Panel's recommendations.

This is the end of the council’s internal statutory children’s social care complaints procedure. 

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO)

If the complaint is still unresolved the complainant may approach the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. The LGSCO is an external organisation authorised to investigate complaints where the council's own investigations have not resolved the issues raised.

The LGSCO provides an impartial, independent, free service and every complainant has the right to approach the LGSCO at any time during a complaint investigation; however, the LGSCO will normally allow the council to consider the complaint first and will refer the complainant back to the council unless exceptional criteria are met.

The LGSCO can be contacted for information and advice, or to register your complaint, by calling 0300 061 0614, or you can write to:

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman Advice Team
PO Box 4771

Make a complaint

For further information or if in doubt, you can talk to our Children’s Customer Care and Complaints Manager who will try to deal with your problem.

You can make contact by telephone, letter, fax, email or in person.

3 Elwood Street
N5 1EB

Telephone: 020 7527 8048
Fax: 020 7354 9742

If you need help making your compliment, comment or complaint, please let us know and we may be able to arrange for someone to help you - this person is called an advocate. Alternatively, you can ask a relative or friend to write or speak on your behalf.

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  1. Data protection: We will handle your personal information in line with the Data Protection Act 1998 and in accordance with the council’s Fair Processing Notice.