- / Procedures
- / Children living away from home
- / Looked After Children and Leaving Care
- / Looked After Reviews
- / Conflict resolution and complaints
Conflict resolution and complaints
At any point in your time working with a child looked after you may be contacted by the RO for the child. This may be due to them following up on whether actions have been completed, whether tasks identified through the care plan have been completed or due to concern about the work that is being done on the case.
In the first instance the RO will look to resolve the problems through talking with you and your manager, and many issues are easily addressed. Often the oversight that the RO can have allows them to see areas which have been overlooked when dealing with the case on a day to day basis. These discussions will be recorded on the child's file.
Should the RO be concerned that issues which they raise are not being addressed, or not being addressed within the child's timescales, then they may decide to escalate the issue.
The RO will need to follow a formal process in order to raise concerns and know that there will be a response. They are able to follow the Guernsey and Alderney Child Protection Guidelines 'Resolution of Professional Disagreements' procedure. This involves escalating the matter through management levels with timescales for responses.
The requirement placed on the RO is that they are personally responsible for activating this process, even when it may not be in line with the child's wishes and feelings. The RO has to decide if following the process is in the best interests of the child and their welfare, as well as the child's human rights.
Part of the RO's role is to ensure that a child is aware that that they have a right to make a complaint and to have someone help them with this if they wish.
If the child is not able to make a complaint in their own right then thought needs to be given as to who is the best placed person to do this (usually whoever is considered to have sufficient interest in the child's welfare).
Even when a complaint has been made through the Department's complaints procedure, the RO should also be working with all concerned to resolve the issues that lead to the complaint. The RO may also be asked by the complaint's team to help them resolve the problem.
If there is sufficient concerns about the child's welfare following the complaint being made the IRO will need to decide whether a referral to CAFCASS is appropriate, or whether to wait and see what the outcome of the complaint and internal resolution processes are.
Referral to CAFCASS
Ultimately the IRO does have the authority to refer a case to CAFCASS, and this can happen at any stage in the process. Whilst rare, this means that CAFCASS would then have to review the case and decide whether, on behalf of the child, the Local Authority should be taken to court.
The criteria for when cases must be referred to CAFCASS are:
- where, in the IRO's opinion the Local Authority has failed significantly to prepare a care plan, review a case or implement the decision of a review; or are otherwise in breach of their duties to the child; and
- despite having raised this with senior management in the Local Authority the issues have not been addressed satisfactorily within a reasonable timescale.
Key to any referral to CAFCASS is the child's needs and the urgency of need of a resolution to the issue at hand.
As with the previous stages, the IRO will record all such decisions and actions taken on the child's file.
- Child protection
- Youth Offending
- Children with Disabilities