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Key Assets is committed to ensuring an effective process for responding to and addressing complaints about the services provided in all of our companies and jurisdictions. We encourage our staff and foster carers to be receptive and sensitive to complaints made about our services, and ensure that the voices of children are listened to. We are committed to proactively resolving any issues of disagreement or shortfall in our services, and regard complaints as a potential learning experience contributing to service improvement.
All stakeholders will be informed of their right to complain and the processes to be followed. Accurate records will be maintained of all complaints and outcomes, and a monthly reporting process is in place for the group as a whole.
We want to assure you that no person will be subject to any reprisal, neither will the service they receive be reduced, as a result of making a complaint.
If you need any help or support at all in making your complaint, or in communicating what you want to say, we will make sure that you receive that help.
It is important for you to be aware that you must make your complaint promptly, as this allows matters to be investigated as thoroughly as possible. You must always make your complaint within one year of the matters which are the subject of your complaint taking place. If your complaint is made later than this, the Provincial Director will exercise discretion as to whether or not to accept your complaint. In making this decision, they will consider the reasons you give for not making your complaint closer to the time of the event(s), and whether or not it is still possible to investigate your complaint fairly, despite the passage of time. This decision will be given to you in writing, with supporting reasoning.
If you were a child at the time of the event(s), your complaint will usually be accepted and will be investigated as fairly and thoroughly as possible.
All complaints will be fully recorded in writing. The written record, including details of the investigation made, the outcome and any actions taken as a result, will be retained for at least three years from the close of the complaint process.
The Ministry of Children and Youth Services, who monitor our work, have the right to ask for details of any complaints made about us. Information about a complaint may also be passed to organizations who commission our work, such as local Children’s Aid Societies.
For the purpose of this policy a complaint is defined as:
“A written or oral expression of dissatisfaction or disquiet in relation to concern about the quality or appropriateness of services, delay in decision-making about services, delivery or non-delivery of services or about a disputed decision.”
Key Assets has a 3 Stage Procedure for dealing with complaints:
Stage One Informal Problem Solving
Stage Two Independent Investigation
Stage Three Complaints Review Panel
KA staff and foster carers seek, where possible, to resolve matters as part of their normal daily duties but where they are unable to do so, KA staff are instructed to make the complainant aware of their right to complain, and advise them who they should contact. The Director or other designated Local Manager will log the complaint and specify which member of staff will address and seek to resolve the issue.
In the event of it not being possible to resolve a complaint informally at the local level then the complainant will be informed in writing (Stage One Outcome Letter) of his/her right to pursue the matter further, and provided with the Director’s contact details. The Director will ensure that attempts have been made to resolve the complaint informally, unless the complainant does not wish to take this option.
Under the KA procedure the investigation will be carried out by an Independent Investigator identified by the Director who has had no previous involvement with the matter concerned. In appropriate circumstances, the statutory child protection social workers/caseworkers will be informed of the complaint and of the progress of the investigation and outcome.
In some circumstances the task of an Independent Investigator may be one of ensuring that the complainant is aware of his/her right to complain under other non-Key Assets procedures. Where appropriate this could include making the complainant aware of his/her right to seek advice from his/her solicitor, Child Advocates Office, local or central government representative, Ombudsman and various voluntary organizations which seek to represent the interests of children and youth in public care and their parents.
If the complainant chooses an alternative to the KA procedure, then an Independent Investigator may in some circumstances be appointed to assist the complainant in making his/her complaint to the relevant authority.
The independent investigator will have the right (subject to any necessary permissions) to examine any relevant documents held by KA and, as appropriate, to interview children/youth, family members, foster carers, staff and others whose involvement has been significant. The method and conduct of the investigation will be in accordance with guidelines for Independent Investigators issued by KA to whom Independent Investigators are accountable.
The decision about making all or some of the Independent Investigator’s report available to the complainant rests with the Director and will take full account of issues of client confidentiality and protection of privacy legislation.
Where a complainant remains dissatisfied with the response at Stage 2, they may request that a complaint review panel be set up to consider the complaint investigation and its findings. The request must be received within 28 days of receiving the outcome in writing of the Stage 2 independent investigation.
The panel will consist of:
A complaint review panel meeting will be convened by the Chair and the venue and date/time for this will be agreed with the complainant and the procedure and background documentation will be circulated to all parties.
The complainant makes his/her representation to the panel who will then make an initial response to the complainant within 24 hours. A full written response will be provided within 5 working days.
The decision of the Complaints Panel will be final.
All children and youth and their families will be informed of their right to file a complaint in regards to services received from the Children’s Aid Society, whether that be with their case worker or that case workers Supervisor. In the event that the complaint is not resolved, they are able to make a complaint through the Child and Family
Services Review Board (CFSRB). Procedures on contacting this service can be received through the CAS or the Ministry of Children and Youth Services.
The Residential Placement Advisory Committee (RPAC) reviews placements of all children or youth living in care who request that their placement be reviewed or changed. This is another avenue that children and youth can voice their concern(s).
Applicants to foster who receive written notice, during or following their assessment, that the agency does not propose to approve them are able to submit written representations to the relevant identified agency decision-maker for his/her determination following consideration by the relevant fostering panel. This is a separate process to invoking the KA complaints procedure.
The complaints process cannot be used to challenge the agency’s decisions about suitability to foster. This includes prospective foster carers who have not been approved or accepted for full assessment. The complaints procedure may only be used to address a complaint where due process has not been followed.