How to contact us for advice

Find out more

Telephone Handler
Close form

Our advice service

We provide advice to parents, grandparents, relatives, friends and kinship carers who are involved with children’s services in England or need their help. We can help you understand processes and options when social workers or courts are making decisions about your child’s welfare.

Our advice service is free, independent and confidential.

Telephone Handler

By phone or email

To speak to an adviser, please call our free and confidential advice line 0808 801 0366 (Monday to Friday 9.30am to 3pm, excluding Bank Holidays). For Textphone dial 18001 followed by the advice line number. Or you can ask us a question via email using our advice enquiry form.

Discuss on our forums

Our online advice forums are an anonymous space where parents and kinship carers (also known as family and friends carers) can get legal and practical advice, build a support network and learn from other people’s experiences.

Advice on our website

Our get help and advice section describes the processes that you and your family are likely to go through, so that you know what to expect. Our webchat service can help you find the information and advice on our website which will help you understand the law and your rights.

Family Rights Group
Cover Your Tracks
Generic filters
Exact matches only

Complaining to the Local Government Ombudsman

If someone has been through all three stages of the children’s services complaints process but is unhappy with the outcome, they can complain to the Local Government Ombudsman. If this has not provided a satisfactory result, the Ombudsman can agree to look into the complaint (see section 26(5)).

If someone has been through the process for complaining about a child protection conference, then they can complain to the Ombudsman too.  Easy to follow information about this is available in the Complaining about a child protection conference section of our Child protection page. It includes a template letter to support families in making complaints about child protection conferences.

What exactly is the LGO and what can they decide?

The Local Government Ombudsman is an independent organisation. It is appointed by Parliament to investigate complaints of injustice made by individuals against local government bodies. This includes complaints against children’s services. The law about making a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman can be found in the Local Government Act 1974.

It is always for the Ombudsman to decide if the complaint is the kind of complaint that the team should investigate.

A complaint to the Ombudsman should be made within 12 months of the problem that is being complained about.

The Ombudsman can extend this time limit if they think it would be fair to do so (Section 26(4)).

What can a complaint to the Ombudsman be about?

The Ombudsman deals with complaints against children’s services’ services such as:

  • They failed to provide the service that is needed by a particular child or family. This means they must have done something wrong or have failed to do something that they should have done
  • Their decision making was biased, didn’t keep to the timescales, or failed to take into account important evidence
  • They did not follow their own procedures properly. The Ombudsman looks at whether the way in which a decision was reached was sound or properly made.

But the Ombudsman:

  • Cannot question whether a decision/action by children’s services was right or wrong simply because you disagree with their decision and
  • Cannot deal with complaints about court proceedings, either during the court case or after it is finished.

Complaining to the Ombudsman is a free service.

How does the Ombudsman deal with a complaint?

The Ombudsman has access to all the relevant files and records held by children’s services. And has the power to get other documents and get witnesses to help them with their investigation.

Following the investigation, the Ombudsman:

  • Will prepare a report that will be sent to you and to children’s services. If there has been a failing by children’s services, it will set out how the Ombudsman thinks children’s services should sort out the problem
  • Publishes the report but without the names or details of the family involved. A statement about the findings must be published in the local press
  • Can make a recommendation (not an order) that children’s services should pay you compensation if your complaint is upheld.

If you need more advice on how to make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman you can:

  • Telephone the LGO Advice Team – 0300 0610614 (calls charged at no more than calls to 01 and 02 landline numbers)
  • Go to their website where you can find on-line fact sheets, and details of how to make a complaint on line.
People pie chart

Our funding means we can currently only help 4 in 10 people

Your donation will help more families access expert legal advice and support from Family Rights Group.

Donate Now