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Make a complaint about Children's Services

We always try to give you the best services possible, but sometimes that does not happen. Making a complaint can help fix problems and make sure they do not happen again.

Please note, we can only accept complaints about the council. If you're complaining about a school, care home, home care provider, or any other support service, you must contact them directly.

Lots of problems can be fixed without needing to make a complaint. You can talk to the staff member concerned (or their manager) about what's happened and what you'd like them to do.

If that does not help, you can make a complaint.

Get help from an advocate

If you're a child or young person, you may want an advocate to help you. An advocate helps you to decide things and speak up about what you want and need.

The Children's Complaints Officer can help you get an advocate. Or you can get one yourself by speaking to the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS). You can email help@nyas.net or call 0808 808 1001 to ask for help. You can also go to the NYAS website to find out more.

Make a complaint

If you'd like to make a complaint about our services, the quickest way to do this is online. We do not normally accept complaints about events or issues which happened more than 12 months ago.

Alternatively, you can email complaints@middlesbrough.gov.uk, or write to: Complaints Team, PO Box 500, Middlesbrough, TS1 9FT.

If you need help, call the Complaints Team on 01642 729814.

How the Children's Services complaints policy works

Initial complaint


Your complaint will be sent to the complaints team. They'll let you know when they've received your complaint, usually within one working day.

We'll contact you if we need more information.

Some complaints can be dealt with immediately. If this is possible, the complaints team will do this, if you agree.

If your complaint cannot be dealt with within 5 working days, it will go to the formal complaints process.

Stage 1 (local resolution)


The manager of the service you're complaining about will look at your complaint. We call them the investigating officer.

The complaints team will write to you to let you know who will be looking at your complaint. We try to do this within 3 working days.

The investigating officer will contact you about your complaint, and see if they can fix the problem. This is usually within 10 working days.

If the investigating officer cannot finish looking at your complaint in 10 working days, they'll contact you and let you know. They must not take more than 10 working days from that date to finish looking at your complaint.

If you're not happy once the complaint has been looked at, or if more than 20 working days have passed, you can ask to move on to stage 2.

Sometimes we might skip stage 1 and go straight to stage 2, but we'll always check you're happy with this first.

Stage 2 (investigation)


A senior manager will look at your complaint. They will not be someone who works for the service you're complaining about. We call them the independent investigator.

If you're under 18, or you're a parent or carer complaining about a service your child is getting, an independent person will also be involved in the complaint. The independent person is someone who does not work for the council. They'll make sure your complaint is looked at properly and fairly.

The independent investigator and independent person will meet with you to talk about your complaint. They'll ask you for more information and what you'd like us to do to fix the problem.

The independent investigator will write to you within 25 working days of that meeting. They'll tell you what they've found out and what the council will do.

If the independent investigator cannot finish looking at your complaint within 25 working days, they'll let you know. They can take up to 65 working days to look at your complaint if they need to.

Both the independent investigator and independent person will write a report about what they've found out. You can meet with them to talk about their reports if you want.

We'll send you a copy of the final report. A senior manager will also write to you with:

  • their response to the report
  • a decision about your complaint
  • what they're going to do in response
  • when these things will happen

This is called the adjudication process.

Stage 3 (review panel)


Once stage 2 has ended, you'll have 20 working days to ask for a review panel.

The review panel will not look at your complaint all over again.

The review panel will:

  • listen to what you and the council have to say
  • look at whether the stage 2 investigation was good enough
  • focus on your complaints and what you want to happen
  • look for more information which might help to fix the problem
  • make a decision about each complaint they're looking at
  • suggest innovative solutions to complicated problems
  • look at whether you've suffered injustice (harm) because of the original problem, and what the council can do about this
  • suggest improvements the council can make to stop problems happening again

Once you've asked for a review panel, we'll try and hold it within 30 working days.

We'll tell you more if you decide to ask for a review panel.

If you're still unhappy, you can complain to the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman (LGSCO). You can complain to the LGSCO sooner, but they'll usually say you should go through the whole complaints process before contacting them.

Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman


The LGSCO investigates complaints made to councils. It looks at whether the council did something wrong, for example when making a decision or providing a service. It also looks at whether there were any problems with how your complaint was handled.

You can visit the LGSCO website to find out more and make a complaint.