Council found to have breached the human rights of a child in care and his parents
Elgan Hearn, local democracy reporter
The parents of a child in the care of Powys County Council, were not “informed as a priority” that their son had been admitted to hospital following an attempt to kill himself, a report has revealed.
The Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Michelle Morris has upheld a complaint that the council breached the human rights of a child in care known as “B” and the child’s parents known as Mr and Mrs A.
Powys County Council has said that they have apologised to the family.
The report explained that Mr and Mrs A lodged a complaint on behalf of their son, B, that the council failed to safeguard and promote his welfare as a looked after child (“LAC”) in the care of Powys.
They were also unhappy about how the council managed their complaint.
The Ombudsman noted that the council’s internal investigation into the issues had noted how Powys had: “failed to keep Mr and Mrs A informed of arrangements for B, including informing them as a priority when B had been admitted to hospital following a suicide attempt.”
The report said: “This lack of transparency and administrative failings caused an avoidable breakdown in the relationship between Mr and Mrs A and the council.”
Lack of transparency
In the report the Ombudsman’s investigating officer said: “The lack of transparency and administrative failings engaged Mr and Mrs A’s human rights under Article six (6) and Article eight (8).
Article six deals with the right to a fair trial and impartiality while Article eight covers the right to respect for your family and private life, your home and correspondence.
The investigating officer said: “The council had not assessed B’s needs and so it could not show that it had regard to the human rights implications of the arrangements it made for him.
“Moreover, the council did not recognise B’s concerns when they were brought to its attention by B’s parents.
“In this, it denied him any meaningful participation in the complaints process.
“By failing to keep Mr and Mrs A appropriately informed of arrangements for B, the council did not act fairly and in line with a human rights-based approach to the provision of children’s social care.”
The Ombudsman has made several recommendations that the council learns lesson including staff training and process reviews, better record keeping, complaint handling and rights-based considerations in social work practice.
A spokesman for Powys County Council said: “The council accepts the findings and the recommendations from The Public Service Ombudsman for Wales in this case and has apologised to the family for its failings.”
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