The LGO considered a claim against Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea brought by Ms F. Ms F complained that the Council unreasonably delayed in carrying out a fostering assessment. The LGO considered that there was no reason for a delay of around 15 months, and that was fault. There was also fault by the Council in failing to deal fully and properly with Ms F’s complaint about the delay. Ms F missed an opportunity to foster children over 15 months and she was put to considerable extra time and trouble in dealing with the Council about the assessment and her complaint. The Council agreed to pay Ms F £1,700. The sum of £1,500 is to recognize her lost opportunity to foster during the period of delay and £200 for her time and trouble in dealing with the matter and her complaint. The Council further agreed to review its procedures.
Mr X complained against Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. Mr X, was the sole foster carer for two children who were aged six and seven at the time of the complaint. Mr X complained that the Council breached National Minimum Standards for foster care services by removing the children from his care without first assessing what action was in the children’s best interests. The LGO found that the Council failed to assess whether the action it intended to take was in Y and Z’s best interests. The Council also failed to record any assessment or discussion. Although this failure did not breach a specific National Minimum Standard, the failure to assess or record failed to meet the requirements of Working Together to Safeguard Children. Working Together to Safeguard Children required councils to conduct a strategy discussion when they needed to take action to safeguard children. This could be before taking action, or in an emergency, afterward. The Council failed to carry out a strategy discussion at any time. The Council thereby failed to meet the requirements of statutory guidance. The Council’s handbook for foster carers was not clear about what would happen when an allegation against a foster carer was made by someone other than a looked-after child. The LGO said that until a new handbook was issued, the Council remained in breach of National Minimum Standard 22.11. Further the Council delayed in dealing with Mr X’s complained. The Council’s faults caused avoidable uncertainty to Mr X and his children whether they could have been returned to Mr X sooner. Mr X went through unnecessary time and trouble. The Council agreed to:
apologise to Mr X for the fault found and pay him £750, comprising £500 for the avoidable uncertainty and £250 for his unnecessary time and trouble;
apologise to the children and pay them £500 each
review its policies in respect of carrying out and recording strategy discussions in cases where it initiates safeguarding investigations to ensure they comply fully with statutory guidance;
arrange training for relevant staff to remind them of the need to carry out and record strategy discussions when taking action to safeguard children;
place a copy of this report on the files of both children to help answer any questions they may have about these matters when they are older; and
The LGO considered a claim against Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council. Mr and Mrs P were foster carers for M. The LGO found that there was fault in the way the Council decided M should be removed from their care. The LGO found evidence that cultural and religious bias played a part in the decision making. Due to the Council’s flawed approach, Mrs and Mrs P suffered distress. The LGO recommended the Council to apologise and pay them £1000 to recognize their additional distress.
Mr A and Ms B were initially foster carers for C who was taken from them in 2011 and moved to an adoption placemen, which was unsuitable for her. Mr A and Ms B made it clear to Northamptonshire County Council that they would take C back if that placement broke down. The Council failed to tell Mr A and Ms B about C’s adoption breakdown when it happened. The Council’s failure caused Mr A and Ms B distress. The Council failed to enable C to have any contact with Mr A and Ms B while the adoption process was ongoing. The Council also failed to ensure C’s belongings came with her from her adoptive placement to the next carer and then on to Mr A and Ms, and that on balance of probabilities this might have caused C distress. Due to the Council’s failure to adhere to statutory timescales in its complaint handling was fault and it caused time and trouble for Mr A and Ms B in obtaining a response. The Council agreed to make a payment of £800 to Mr A and Ms B and £750 to C. The Council also agreed to apologise to parties.
Mrs K complained about the way Plymouth City Council placed children in her care. She did not receive enough information about the risk to them, or appropriate support and training. The LGO found that the Council was at fault in encouraging Ms K to take on four children from whom sexual exploitation was an issue and that further it failed to provide either enough information about the risks around this or appropriate training. Ms K had no income from fostering between May and December 2014 and got into financial difficulty and had to sell her house. Even though the LGO considered that this was not a result primarily of fault by the Council, it considered that the Council should have taken some actions to remedy the complaint. The Council agreed to apologise to Ms K and pay her £750.
Malcolm Johnson E: firstname.lastname@example.org
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