Make a complaint about children's social care

If you have any concerns about a service, please speak to the appropriate member of staff as soon as possible. You could also contact their manager to discuss your dissatisfaction. Most concerns are quickly and successfully resolved this way.

Who can complain

There are a variety of people who can complain:

  • Any child or young person who is 'looked after' or who is a child in need, or a child with disabilities.
  • A 'looked after' child's parents or foster parents.
  • An advocate acting on behalf of a child or young person.
  • People applying to adopt, or who are having services from our adoption service.
  • Care leavers.
  • Special guardians.
  • Any other person who may have a sufficient interest in a child or young person known to us (this is at our discretion).

If you are making a complaint on behalf of a child or young person, we'll need to know that they are happy for you to do this.

What can you complain about

You can complain about any aspect of the service that we have provided to you, your child or family, about:

  • its quality or reliability
  • the way that our staff have treated you
  • the decisions that have been made.

How to make a complaint

Fill in the children's social care complaint form, or you can call 020 7926 9777.

Make a complaint about children's social care

How we'll handle your complaint

Stage 1 complaints

This is called the local stage where you speak to your social worker or the team manager about what is bothering you.

Please tell us as much as you can about your problem, including:

  • what went wrong
  • when it happened
  • who you dealt with
  • any reference numbers you have
  • how you would like the matter resolved.

You can have support from your foster carer, friend, advocate or someone that you trust to do this. They should try to sort out the problem within 10 working days.

Stage 2 complaints

If you still think that there is a problem, the complaints manager will ask for an independent person (someone who doesn’t work for Lambeth Council) to look into it for you.

This is a formal investigation and you should be told within 25 working days about what will happen. A report will also be written up and a senior social care manager will go through this with you.

Stage 3 complaints

If you are still not happy, then a review panel will look into this for you. The panel is made up of three people who do not work for Lambeth Council.

They will try to sort the problem within 30 working days and will let you know the result.

Who else can you speak to

Local Government Ombudsman

You can contact the Local Government Ombudsman at any time about your complaint.

They will usually want to see the complaint go through all three stages before they get involved. They will decide if they think we should take any further action once they have considered your complaint. They will let you and us know about their decision.


Ofsted is the government office responsible for regulating and inspecting local authority social care services, and others who provide care to children and young people. They do not investigate complaints, but they may be able to help you if your issues are to do with the standards of care provided to a child or young person.

Local councillor

You can also contact your local councillor.

Find your councillor online

Or, call us on 020 7926 1000.


pdf Complaints guide 4.26MB

pdf Complaints parent guide 2.44MB