Has anyone had negative repercussions for complaining?

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QuestionMark
Posts: 145
Joined: Sun Jul 22, 2018 5:10 pm

Has anyone had negative repercussions for complaining?

Post by QuestionMark » Fri Mar 20, 2020 5:15 pm

Case was closed and now I’ve had help putting a complaint together, but I’m afraid they’ll get involved again if I complain.

What’s the experience others have had after putting complaints in? I just want to raise the issues but I want them to leave me alone too

A123
Posts: 29
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2017 4:40 pm

Re: Has anyone had negative repercussions for complaining?

Post by A123 » Thu May 21, 2020 11:27 am

i put numerous complaints in as did my mother the social worker did not want my family to have my daughter from the time she was born this was in 2016 well fastforward 2017 no court involvement a rehab plan was put in place for my daughter to finally come home but i got i ended up being a passenger in a car accident so they issused court preceding straight away i wasnt even driving to say it was my fault they dragged me to court on a zimmer frame as i had 2 broken legs i had only just been discharged from hospital in no fit state to leave the house anyway they got what they wanted a care order i was granted 6 times a year contact by the judge but i raised issues with the way my daught was dressed her clothes were way to big her shoes simply fell off her so did her coat ect told basically to shut up 1st time id raised concerens then in 2018 my daughter said her 'father' her carer had hit her and told me where and what happened infront of the social worker in contact once contact finished she had a word with her carer and phoned me back a few days later saying the carer newe nothing about it i had to phone the social worker for something in 2019 asked her again what was said i had a different story well now she has reduced my contact down to 3 times a year apparently for lack of engagement ive never missed a contact in 4 years even when i had to be monitored for a high risk pregnancy she had my go 10 miles away for contact making me cut it fine for my hospital appointment she was a right *** but im still stuck to 3 times a year 2 different social workers later they have no issues with me as far as im aware

friendoffamily
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat May 16, 2020 8:55 pm

Re: Has anyone had negative repercussions for complaining?

Post by friendoffamily » Thu May 21, 2020 10:16 pm

My daughter is subject to a care order but lives with her dad, my ex husband.
I used to have one to one supervised contact with my daughter. Due to the onset of coronavirus Children’s Services have proposed alternative measures. These include Video contact twice monthly and email contact on alternate weeks. The last time I saw my daughter was on the 7TH of March. I have been unable to participate in video contact due to being on a very low income and not having a smartphone or a computer new enough to do Skype. Children’s Services are aware of this. I have emailed Children’s Services several times asking for help with this, and to obtain information about my daughter’s welfare as I have not received any meaningful updates on this since last contact on the 7th of March. The social workers usual response is “she’s fine,” or “we have no concerns about your daughter”

I have started a complaints process with them and was not satisfied with the response at stage one and so requested a progression to stage two, they flatly refuse to progress my complaint to the second stage. When I raise concerns or an enquiry about my child's welfare and how she is coping in lockdown in these unprecedented and stressful times they indicate that contact with my daughter may be affected if I make "allegations".

Due to the delay in receiving any update from Children’s services regarding my daughter my friend called the social worker to gain more information. My friend was told that the social worker had been told not to speak to her, did not explain why, and ended the call. I found this strange as he had previously spoken to her by telephone, and the social worker had called him to inform me that contact was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. My friend had also spoken to her on other occasions, was acting as my advocate at meetings and the conversation has always been polite and amicable. I then received an email informing me that:“I understand that your friend has also been emailing officers on your behalf and though I note that you have given him permission to act on your behalf, we are of the view that as you are the parent and are capable of communicating with us independently that there is no need for us to use him as a go-between. We will not, therefore, be responding to any further emails from him.
In addition, due to the high level of correspondence from you recently to various officers, we believe that the best way forward would be for you to send one email in to me once a fortnight which lists any questions and concerns you have. This will enable me to liaise with the appropriate officers and respond to you in a comprehensive way. Please note that in between these times any further emails to either me or any other Council officers will be noted but not responded to unless they are of an emergency nature.”

I believe the second statement from the social Worker is quite telling; it focuses on the council’s “need” rather then my need to access help and information about my daughter. I have received no real response regarding my daughter’s welfare and related matters. In the absence of video contact with my daughter, I sent emails to her via the social worker. I asked for confirmation that these have been forwarded to her. I thought this was a reasonable request given the current situation. When I asked again if my daughter was being helped to reply to my emails, she is seven, I was told that my daughter is not opening my emails due to my "recent behaviour" without any further explanation. As I have not seen my daughter for two months I have no idea what they are saying. My contact with my daughter prior to lockdown was always very good. I am not convinced that my emails are reaching my daughter.
I used to travel out of borough to supervised contact. I still have had no refund of travel expenses for many visits to contact which would help me to buy a smartphone to do video contact. Despite being told two months ago that this would be provided I still don’t have this.

I don't trust Children's Services any further than I could throw a big boulder.

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Has anyone had negative repercussions for complaining?

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed May 27, 2020 3:33 pm

A123 wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 11:27 am
i put numerous complaints in as did my mother the social worker did not want my family to have my daughter from the time she was born this was in 2016 well fastforward 2017 no court involvement a rehab plan was put in place for my daughter to finally come home but i got i ended up being a passenger in a car accident so they issused court preceding straight away i wasnt even driving to say it was my fault they dragged me to court on a zimmer frame as i had 2 broken legs i had only just been discharged from hospital in no fit state to leave the house anyway they got what they wanted a care order i was granted 6 times a year contact by the judge but i raised issues with the way my daught was dressed her clothes were way to big her shoes simply fell off her so did her coat ect told basically to shut up 1st time id raised concerens then in 2018 my daughter said her 'father' her carer had hit her and told me where and what happened infront of the social worker in contact once contact finished she had a word with her carer and phoned me back a few days later saying the carer newe nothing about it i had to phone the social worker for something in 2019 asked her again what was said i had a different story well now she has reduced my contact down to 3 times a year apparently for lack of engagement ive never missed a contact in 4 years even when i had to be monitored for a high risk pregnancy she had my go 10 miles away for contact making me cut it fine for my hospital appointment she was a right *** but im still stuck to 3 times a year 2 different social workers later they have no issues with me as far as im aware
Dear A123

I see you have posted again on the parents’ discussion forum a few times 21st-23rd May 2020. I will respond to the queries you have posted in a single post.

Firstly, you posted on a thread ‘Has anyone had negative repercussions from complaining’. From what you state in the post, it appears that you believe that the concerns you raised regarding your daughter’s clothes, disclosure that she made about being hit as well as previous complaints which both you and your mother made prior to a care order being made. You mention that there were arrangements in place for your daughter to return to your care prior to the accident in which you were involved. You do not say who your daughter was living with at that time or why she needed to be away from your care. It may be that you mentioned this in previous posts.
I am responding to what you say in this post. Children’s services would not have been able to make an application for a care order only on the basis that you were in a car accident. They would need to provide the court with a lot more than the accident. Further, the court must find that the threshold criteria is met before making a final care order. Please see here .

Regarding the reduction in contact, children’s services, because they have a care order can make decisions about contact on the basis of what is in the child’s best interests. If they do decide to reduce contact to a child in care then they should have a contact review meeting to discuss this decision. It maybe that children’s services had concerns about the placement being undermined. If your contact was reduced and no valid reason given to you then you should consider making a formal complaint since you did not miss contact. You can also discuss this with the independent reviewing officer (IRO). It is also possible for you to make an application to the court. Please see our advice sheet Contact with children in care.

Turning now to your second post, you ask whether a person’s history with children’s services (new name for social services) follows them even if they leave the country. If children’s services become involved with a person with a history then the new local authority would be aware of the history as an investigation or enquiry would show previous involvement. Having said that, the history is not what is going to be the deciding factor in any subsequent involvement as that person would be looked at as they are at the time of the new involvement. The history would be looked at and form part of any subsequent assessment or court proceedings. Being abroad, will depend on whether a request is made for historical information regarding the person or persons in question.

Whether a person has made significant changes and have a clear understanding of what led to children’s services would also be important in any new case involving that person. Please see information here

If it was decided that a court case is necessary this will be based on the evidence available to children’s services and it will always be the court that makes the final decision after considering all the evidence both written and oral.

In respect of your third post, it appears from what you say that although your mother had a special guardianship order for your two eldest children, this placement did not work out well as they were removed from her care. As a result, children’s services applied for care orders these two children and a final care order made with a plan for long term foster care. At the same time, your case relating to your baby was also ongoing.

You have had a very difficult time, with your accident and the other issues you have had to deal with in respect of your children. It is unfortunate that you have not been able to have any of your children remain in your care.

It may be that with your baby who had already been placed with adopters the court took the view that whatever you needed to do would not be done within the baby’s timescale. This is because consideration has to be given to a young child having a secure and settled placement. Meeting the proposed adopter would have been nice for you as it might have help seeing the person who would be taking care of your daughter. That decision is for that person to make. Hopefully, you will have letter box contact so you get some information about how your daughter is doing.

Although, being adopted means she is no longer legally your child, it is clear that you feel a very strong link with her and have hope that in the future she might want to know about you and her background and you have made financial provision for her.

My suggestion is that you try and maintain contact with your children who are in long term foster care and work on the changes that you have already made so, possibly at a later date you can ask to be assessed for them to return to your care. It is important that you recognise the reasons they could not be with you and work on those issues. I understand that it will be hard to forget the things you believe were incorrect on the part of children’s services but rather than focus on the negative try to maintain all the positives that you have done.

If you are not already receiving post adoption support, I think it may be helpful for you and you should ask the social worker to arrange this for you. Please see our advice sheet Adoption: what does it mean for birth parents?.

I think you might also find this advice sheet useful Duties on Children’s Services when children are in the care system

Best wishes

Suzie

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
Posts: 2652
Joined: Mon Jul 04, 2011 2:57 pm

Re: Has anyone had negative repercussions for complaining?

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Wed Jun 10, 2020 11:55 am

friendoffamily wrote:
Thu May 21, 2020 10:16 pm
My daughter is subject to a care order but lives with her dad, my ex husband.
I used to have one to one supervised contact with my daughter. Due to the onset of coronavirus Children’s Services have proposed alternative measures. These include Video contact twice monthly and email contact on alternate weeks. The last time I saw my daughter was on the 7TH of March. I have been unable to participate in video contact due to being on a very low income and not having a smartphone or a computer new enough to do Skype. Children’s Services are aware of this. I have emailed Children’s Services several times asking for help with this, and to obtain information about my daughter’s welfare as I have not received any meaningful updates on this since last contact on the 7th of March. The social workers usual response is “she’s fine,” or “we have no concerns about your daughter”

I have started a complaints process with them and was not satisfied with the response at stage one and so requested a progression to stage two, they flatly refuse to progress my complaint to the second stage. When I raise concerns or an enquiry about my child's welfare and how she is coping in lockdown in these unprecedented and stressful times they indicate that contact with my daughter may be affected if I make "allegations".

Due to the delay in receiving any update from Children’s services regarding my daughter my friend called the social worker to gain more information. My friend was told that the social worker had been told not to speak to her, did not explain why, and ended the call. I found this strange as he had previously spoken to her by telephone, and the social worker had called him to inform me that contact was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. My friend had also spoken to her on other occasions, was acting as my advocate at meetings and the conversation has always been polite and amicable. I then received an email informing me that:“I understand that your friend has also been emailing officers on your behalf and though I note that you have given him permission to act on your behalf, we are of the view that as you are the parent and are capable of communicating with us independently that there is no need for us to use him as a go-between. We will not, therefore, be responding to any further emails from him.
In addition, due to the high level of correspondence from you recently to various officers, we believe that the best way forward would be for you to send one email in to me once a fortnight which lists any questions and concerns you have. This will enable me to liaise with the appropriate officers and respond to you in a comprehensive way. Please note that in between these times any further emails to either me or any other Council officers will be noted but not responded to unless they are of an emergency nature.”

I believe the second statement from the social Worker is quite telling; it focuses on the council’s “need” rather then my need to access help and information about my daughter. I have received no real response regarding my daughter’s welfare and related matters. In the absence of video contact with my daughter, I sent emails to her via the social worker. I asked for confirmation that these have been forwarded to her. I thought this was a reasonable request given the current situation. When I asked again if my daughter was being helped to reply to my emails, she is seven, I was told that my daughter is not opening my emails due to my "recent behaviour" without any further explanation. As I have not seen my daughter for two months I have no idea what they are saying. My contact with my daughter prior to lockdown was always very good. I am not convinced that my emails are reaching my daughter.
I used to travel out of borough to supervised contact. I still have had no refund of travel expenses for many visits to contact which would help me to buy a smartphone to do video contact. Despite being told two months ago that this would be provided I still don’t have this.

I don't trust Children's Services any further than I could throw a big boulder.
Dear friendoffamily

Welcome to the parents’ discussion forum and thank you for your post.

My name is Suzie, online adviser at Family Rights Group. From reading your post, it is clear that there are a number of issues that you have with children’s services regarding your daughter and, due to the current Covid-19 situation, the lack of face to face contact.

It is unfortunate that you are not able to enjoy face time contact with your daughter because you do not have the technology to do so. I think you should write to the social worker and team manager to ask that you are provided with at the very least a smart phone so you are able to have contact. I suggest you ask about the government provided fund for use in this crisis situation to help families.

Regarding your complaint, the local authority should have a complaints policy on their website and are expected to follow their own complaints procedures. I suggest you read this or the person who assists you could provide you with a copy if you are unable to access it on your own computer. Alternatively, request a copy from the social worker. Normally, there is an expectation that a person exhausts the local authority’s complaints procedures before taking a matter to the local government and social care ombudsman. If the local authority refuse to follow their own procedures this can be the basis of a complaint to the ombudsman.

Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 situation, the Ombudsman, as at 5 June is still not accepting new complaints.

I suggest you make a written request to the social worker to be reimbursed for your travel giving a clear indication that since the local authority are failing in their duty to promote contact, by not providing the means for you to engage in remote contact, then you wish to receive the outstanding amount so you can purchase at the very least a smartphone to enable you to do so. It might be helpful that you copy in the head of children’s services, chief executive, independent reviewing officer and team manager. You may also find it helpful to ask for assistance from your local councillor and MP.

You may also find it helpful to read our advice sheets Duties on Children’s Services when children are in the care system and Challenging decisions and making complaints.

Whilst I can understand your wish to have updates regarding your daughter, I do not think it is helpful, especially at the current time to be sending too many emails from your friend and yourself, which are unlikely to be answered and important issues on which you need a response lost. I suggest it would be more helpful to email on specific points to ensure a response. Staffing may be at a lower level than usual as well.

Although, you asked no specific questions in your post, I have responded to what appears to be the important issues for you regarding your daughter. I hope you find this helpful.

Best wishes,

Suzie

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