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Parents and carers can make a complaint if their council has
refused to assess their child of if there are problems with the
services they are receiving, such as:
Each local authority has a 'designated officer', called the
complaints manager, who receives all complaints. They don't handle
all stages of the complaint but are responsible for administering
the scheme to make sure complaints are dealt with swiftly and
You should bring your concerns to the attention of the person
providing the service. The local authority should make a first
attempt to resolve matters within 10 working days, which can be
extended by another 10 days (if, for example, an advocate needs to
If the matter isn't resolved, the local authority will arrange
an investigation and produce a report and a decision within 25
days. The investigation will be undertaken by a nominated
If you are still unhappy, you can ask for the matter to go to a
Review Panel within 20 working days of the investigation decision.
Three independent people will consider the complaint and make
If the matter is still not resolved, you can take the complaint
to the Local Government Ombudsman. For details, visit www.lgo.org.uk/contactus
or call 0300 061 0614.
You can make a complaint to anyone at your local authority. They
will inform the designated Complaints Officer.
There are two stages to the complaints procedure. At the first,
the local authority will try to resolve the complaint with you
within 10 working days. At the second stage, an Independent
Investigator will investigate the complaint. They will respond
within 25 days with a report and conclusions.
If you are still unhappy, you can take your complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman
Each council in Scotland and Wales has its own complaints
procedure. Similarly, there are five health and social care trusts
in Northern Ireland providing services to the public locally and on
a regional basis. Each of these has its own complaints
Needs assessments are the process social services uses to decide
if extra help is required to meet your family's needs.
The law says that councils must assess every child who is or may
be a child 'in need'. Children are 'in need' if they need help from
the council with their health or development or if they are
'disabled'. Carers who are the family or friends of disabled
children are also entitled to an assessment, either as a separate
assessment or addressed through the disabled child's
The template letter below, which we have produced with the Every
Disabled Child Matters campaign, can be sent when a council has
refused to carry out an assessment. The letter should be sent by
fax, email and post, if possible, to the Director of Children's
Services, to the social worker (if you have one) and to the Lead
Member for Children's Services.
Challenging a refusal to assess your disabled child for care and
support services (Wales and England) [DOC]
Read our parent guide
When your child has additional needs [PDF].