Being in Care - complaints

Being looked after is not always easy. A large number of people become involved with you but, even with so many people trying to help, sometimes things go wrong.

If you are having problems, it is important that you tell someone that you trust.

Problems don’t have to be huge before you let anyone know about them. If something is important to you, it is important to us. You can talk to the person who is looking after you, a friend, a parent, your social worker, a teacher or any adult that you feel will take you seriously.

We can sort our many problems this way. However, if we do not sort out your problem quickly - in a day or two, you can complain.

This section tells you how you can do this and what support you can have.

Things you may not be happy about

How you can complain

What will happen to your complaint

Help making your complaint

Things you may not be happy about

Some examples of things you may want to complain about are:

  • Your worker or carer is treating you unfairly
  • We are not listening to you, or we are not taking your views seriously.
  • We are not telling you why we have made the decisions we have or we have not properly consulted with you
  • We are not telling you what your rights are
  • We are punishing you unfairly
  • We are discriminating against you (because of race, religion, disability or anything else).
  • We are not getting you what you need, or what you are entitled to (in areas of your life for example, seeing your family, getting support from your social worker, education, help when you leave care, health care, social life and hobbies).
  • We are not giving you the information you should have, such as copies of important papers and information at the right time.
  • We have not done something we said we would do or we have done something you think we should not have done.

How you can complain

You can complain in the way that is best for you:

• Talk to an adult you trust about how to complain.

• Talk to your carer, residential worker, or ask to speak to your social worker or independent reviewing officer.

• Complete your choice, your voice leaflet.

• Contact The Children’s Society on 0800 0856 324.

• Contact the Customer Service Centre on 0300 123 6720.

What will happen to your complaint

Stage 1

We treat all stage 1 complaints directly from the young people we look after as we would a Your Choice, Your Voice complaint, which means it comes to the customer feedback service and we keep an eye on it. The customer feedback service will speak to you as soon as we receive your complaint and we send it to the designated complaints officer. They will ask a social worker (not your social worker) to meet with you about your complaint. You should receive a letter about what we are going to do about your complaint within two weeks. An advocate can help you with your complaint and if you want an advocate to work with you we will arrange for one from Lancashire Children’s Rights. If after you have received the letter, you are still unhappy with what we have done about your complaint you can take your complaint to stage 2. But you might want to consider mediation because it can sometimes solve your complaint much more quickly than a stage 2 can.


Mediation is voluntary and confidential. An independent mediator will talk to you about your complaint and set up a meeting with a manager who can make a decision about your complaint. The mediator encourages you and the manager to talk about how to sort out the complaint. An advocate can help you here too. You have nothing to lose by trying mediation as it might work, if it doesn’t, your complaint can still go to stage 2.

Stage 2

At stage 2 an investigating officer investigates your complaint alongside an independent person. The investigating officer is likely to be someone who does not work for us but if they do they will not be a part of service you complained about. The independent person must not work for the council. The investigator does the investigation and the independent person works with them to make sure that the investigation is fair to everyone. They will look at the complaint in more detail, interview those involved, look at the records, check that we have treated you fairly and that we have taken your complaint seriously.

Stage 3

Finally, if you are not happy with the result of the stage 2 investigation, you can ask for a review panel meeting at stage 3. Three independent persons (the panel) will go through your complaint, look at the investigation, and our reply to your complaint. They will then recommend whether we could do more to sort out the complaint. The panel will want you to come to a meeting to tell them your views and you can bring someone with you to support you, an advocate can really help you do this.

Help making your complaint

We will always check that you have an adult to help you if you want one. If you do not have an adult you trust to help you with your complaint, you can ask for an advocate to help you.

Advocates are independent and trained to support you to say what you want to say, or they could say it for you. Advocates do not work for us. They work for a charity called National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS).  The advocates work for you, so you are in control.

For further advocacy support information, please contact NYAS on 0808 808 1001.

What you say to your advocate does not have to be passed on to your social worker or Children’s Social Care Services (unless you or others are in real danger).