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Complaints Policy

Outcome: All complaints received will be handled consistently and timely ensuring effective communications with the complainants to agree positive outcomes.


1.0 – Introduction


Caudwell Children welcome feedback and will use it to improve and shape the services that we provide. Sometimes despite our best endeavours, effective training and robust processes, there is the possibility that we will fail to meet the high standards that we expect for ourselves.

1.2 – We are committed to dealing with all complaints sensitively, fairly and effectively. We will make every effort to ensure that all complaints receive a complete, accurate and timely response. No complaint will be disregarded.

1.3 – This policy also reflects our commitment to appropriately safeguarding and protecting children and adults at risk of abuse through the delivery of the best possible services and where everyone conducts themselves in a manner that upholds public confidence. We are committed to understanding where things may have gone wrong and to prevent things going wrong in the future.

This policy recognises that the courteous, timely and effective management of complaints is vital to maintain and build on the good relationships that we have with our children and families.


2.0 – Purpose


2.1 – This policy is to assist staff and volunteers to know how to respond and manage and complaints received from children, families and external parties.

2.2 – Embedding complaints and concerns in the charities approaches has two main aims:

To improve how we use the intelligence from concerns and complaints to better understand the quality of care and support we are delivering.
To consider how well we handle complaints and concerns to encourage improvement.

2.3 – The policy will ensure our internal arrangements to manage complaints is robust, open and transparent and encourages learning including our principles, complaints processes, reporting mechanisms and expectations.


3.0 – Scope


3.1 – This policy is to be understood and applied to all staff (including sessional staff and commissioned third parties) and volunteers (including students) working in the organisation.

3.2 – This policy sets out the approach for managing complaints that come from children, families, the public or individuals and partner organisations that we work with relating to all of Caudwell Children Services

3.3 – For the purposes of this policy, complaints includes complaints about our services and the conduct of people working for us, including staff, volunteers and contractors.

3.4 – Caudwell Children employees with a complaint should refer to the grievance, whistleblowing and safeguarding policies as appropriate.


4.0 – Definitions and Legal Context


4.1 – Caudwell Children define a complaint as:

“an expression of dissatisfaction about something Caudwell Children, or someone acting on behalf of the Caudwell Children, has done, whether justified or not.”

4.2 – This definition recognises any dissatisfaction reported to us by our children, families and external parties about our performance or the application of our policies and procedures or our service provision,

4.3 – Complainant – The individual or group that has raised the complaint.

4.4 – Responsible Manager – the manager tasked with investigating a complaint.

4.5 – Serious incident – any situation where there is a significant risk to children, adults at risk of abuse, a family member of those using the services, property, work, or reputation, or could result in a significant loss of funds to Caudwell Children.

4.6 – Complaints procedure – Our formal two-stage process of internally addressing any complaint.

4.7 – Criticism and complaint are not necessarily the same; for example, an objection to one of our policies may represent an expression of a differing viewpoint, and whilst such statements will always require a respectful and complete response, they will not automatically be defined as a “complaint”. Any criticism will, nevertheless, always be acknowledged as a complaint if the complainant defines it as such and wishes it to be addressed under our Complaints Procedure.

4.8 – The following issues (not an exhaustive list) will always be handled as complaints, due to how they relate to our purpose and values:

4.9 – Our Complaints Policy incorporates relevant legislation, regulations and guidance, including:

The Children and Family Act 2014
Statutory guidance relevant to Caudwell Children, including regulators such as the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Charity Commission.


5.0 – How we manage complaints


5.1 – We aim to resolve complaints swiftly and effectively; ideally at the first point of contact or soon thereafter.

5.2 – We recognise that any staff member may be the first person to be provided with information regarding a complaint. If this individual has both the authority and sufficient information to resolve the situation promptly and successfully, then they will do so. If not, they will pass the complaint onto the most suitable member of the team or wider charity for matters to be resolved satisfactorily.

5.3 – Care will be taken by the individual receiving the complaint to ensure that the complaint is passed onto the most appropriate staff member first time to minimise the risk of complaints being mishandled and delayed, leading to further complaints or an escalation of concern.

5.4 – We aim to resolve most general complaints informally either at, or close to, the first point of contact. Sometimes, however, due to the complex or sensitive nature of an issue, or because an acceptable resolution cannot be agreed, our formal complaints procedure will be followed.

5.5 – The formal complaints procedure will be followed at any stage if requested by the complainant.

5.6 – If a complaint is being handled informally, then the staff member must keep a well-defined distinction between the formal and informal stages of the complaints process, and inform the complainant of their right to have their complaint managed formally if they request this.

When handling complaints, all staff must pay specific attention to the following:
At any stage of the complaints process, the individual managing the complaint may become aware that the criteria for reporting a serious incident has been met.
If the complaint includes a safeguarding concern or allegation about a staff member or volunteer, then the procedures outlined in the safeguarding children and safeguarding adults’ policies and procedures will be followed. A safeguarding allegation is defined as any indication that a staff member or volunteer has:
Behaved in a way that has or might lead to the harm of a child/vulnerable adult
Possibly committed or is planning to commit a criminal offence against a child/vulnerable adult or related to a child/vulnerable adult
Behaved towards a child or children/vulnerable adults in a way that indicates s/he is or would be unsuitable to work with children/vulnerable adults.


6.0 – Complaints about individuals not employed directly by us.


Where a complaint is made to Caudwell Children in relation to anyone contracted or acting as consultant on our behalf, then the right is reserved to refer the complaint and/or the outcome of any investigation to their professional body (where appropriate and/or relevant).
Where services are provided by Caudwell Children on behalf of third parties, this policy still applies. Complainants will retain their right to make a complaint directly to the third party itself.


7.0 – Instances where we will be unable to respond to a complaint.


7.1 -In some circumstances we will not be able to respond to a complaint:

8.0 – Privacy of Information


8.1 – We maintain the confidentiality of all personal information and do not disclose anything without explicit permission, unless legally obliged to do so. All information is kept strictly in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations 2018 and associated Data Protection legislation 2018.


9.0 – Our Responsibilities



10.0 – Complaint reporting in relation to regulated activity; the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and the Charity Commission


10.1 – In addition to the child safeguarding referral process, safeguarding events must be reported as an adverse incident in-line with CQC Notification guidelines. significant events must also be reported to the Charity Commission.

10.2 – Where allegations of abuse have occurred within a service registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC), a notification must be completed and submitted via e-mail to the CQC: the latest forms are available on the CQC website.

10.3 – If there is an allegation that a member of staff has caused harm to a child, this must be reported immediately to their line manager or another senior member of staff. Management of such allegations will follow the procedure set out in our disciplinary procedures and safeguarding policies.


11.0 – Complaint Management


11.1 – How can the public complain?

11.2 – Our published advice available to the public is that complaints in relation to Caudwell Children’s activities should be directed to the Governance Lead as below:

Via email to
In writing for the attention of Associate Director of Operations, Caudwell Children Caudwell International Children Centre, Innovation Way, Keele University, Newcastle- Under-Lyme, Staffordshire, ST5 5NT.

11.3 – Additionally, if a complainant would like to direct a complaint to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, then their Caudwell Children contact details will be made available upon request.

11.4 – Although this is our published advice, any complaint received by a member of Caudwell Children staff however received, will be responded to in the same manner.


12.0 – Formal complaints procedure: Stage One


12.1 – All formal complaints must be forwarded to the relevant Responsible Manager within one working day by the person receiving the complaint.

– Once the complaint has been received by the Responsible Manager, they have a maximum of two working days to formally acknowledge the complaint and to provide reassurance to the complainant that it is being dealt with.
– The findings and conclusions of the Responsible Manager must be provided in writing to the complainant within ten working days. This response to the complaint must include:
– The reasoning behind the Responsible Manager’s findings and conclusions.
– Any action taken to address the complaint.
– Details of how the complainant can submit an appeal if they are unsatisfied with the outcome.

12.4 – It is good practice, at Stage 1 of a complaint, that the Responsible Manager provide an opportunity to meet face-to-face with the complainant; wherever this is achievable and practicable.

12.5 – We will make every effort to be sensitive to the complainant’s individual circumstances and background, such as their gender, first language, sexuality and/or any disabilities they may have. It may be beneficial or supportive for the complainant to have the involvement of a friend or relative.

12.6 – Where a meetings takes place it may be the case that much of the investigatory work may occur before a meeting takes place. In other circumstances, the Responsible Manager may want to want to hold a meeting, to provide the opportunity to listen to the complainant and then follow up any areas requiring further investigation. Only when all exploratory work is complete then Responsible Manager can draw their findings to a conclusion.

12.7 – There may be instances where a comprehensive investigation and conclusion may not be achievable within the ten working day timescale. In such circumstances, an extension may only occur with the prior agreement of the complainant.


13.0 – Formal Complaints Procedure: Stage Two: Appeal


13.1 – If the complainant is dissatisfied with our response at Stage One, then the complainant may request that the complaint to be considered at Stage Two (Appeal).

13.2 – Complainants will be requested to provide an explanation regarding their dissatisfaction of the outcome at Stage One, in writing within ten working days; although it is not essential that they do this; if this timescale is exceeded then an appeal will not automatically be prevented.

13.3 – Once a complaint’s request to appeal is received, the Responsible Manager escalates the request to the Second Responsible Manager and to the appropriate Executive Team Member within one working day.

The Executive Team Member will determine whether there is any basis for appeal and if a further review is required.

13.5 – If the Executive Team Member accept that there is basis for appeal they will typically delegate the task of considering the appeal to the Second Responsible Manager. If there are reasons where this would be deemed inappropriate, then the Executive Board Member may:

Consider the appeal themselves.
Delegate the task to another manager within the lead team.

13.6 – The preferences of the complainant must be considered by the Executive Team Member when considering to whom the appeal is delegated. The complainant must be informed of the rationale and decision within two working days.

13.7 – The Second Responsible Manager (or any other manager to whom the task has been delegated) must complete their investigations within ten working days of the decision to proceed to Stage Two. In exceptional circumstances, an extension may only occur with the prior agreement of the complaint.

13.8 – The Second Responsible Manager must make all practical attempts to meet directly with the complainant, unless this took place at Stage One and a further meeting is deemed unnecessary.

13.9 – The Executive Team Member may choose to request that for external, independent advice to be sought. The key role of the involvement of an independent person(s) is to ascertain whether the Caudwell Children Complaints Procedure is being followed correctly and that the process remains unbiased and objective. An independent person may be utilised to provide additional professional and/or technical advice in order to better understand any issues raised.

13.10 – Circumstances for an appeal could include (although this list is not exhaustive) a failure to:

13.11 – Following any meeting with the complainant (if held), the individual considering the appeal will conclude their findings, considering what they have heard and after examining all documentation. These conclusions provide the basis for the decision to either reject the appeal, confirming the original decision, or endorse the appeal and make recommendations for a suitable plan.

13.12 – The appeal decision must be provided in writing to the complainant within ten working days of the decision to consider the appeal, or within ten working days following ant appeal meeting with the complainant. The response must include:

14.0 – What happens if the complainant remains dissatisfied after Stage Two Appeal outcome?


14.1 – If the Caudwell Children Complaints Procedure has been exhausted, the complainants can choose to refer their complaint to the following organisations:

15.0 – Whistleblowing


15.1 – If you are a professional with concerns about how child protection issues are being handled in your organisation, or another organisation, you should contact the national child abuse whistleblowing advice line on 0800 028 0285 or

15.2 – Caudwell Children has its own Whistleblowing policy that should be read in conjunction with this complaints policy.


16.0 – Training


16.1 – Caudwell Children Mandatory Training Policy describes our minimum statutory, mandatory and required training for all staff, students and volunteer groups in respect of complaint management and safeguarding children and adults including refresher training.


17.0 – Audit and Review


17.1 – A central complaints register will be maintained by the Associate Director of Operations. The register will log all formal complaints, the name of the Responsible Manager, a summary of the key investigatory points, the complaint outcome and any residual actions.

17.2 – Complaint themes will also be measured to increase understanding of why complaints have been raised in the first instance, disseminate findings and improve quality of service delivery. Compliant management will form part of the quality report that is forwarded to the Executive Team on a quarterly basis.

17.3 – This policy will be reviewed every three years or more frequently in line with learning and improvement of service delivery.


18.0 – Associate Policies


19.0 – Useful references


Advertising Standards Authority

Care Quality Commission (CQC)

Charity Commission for England and Wales
PO Box 1227,
L69 3UG

Tel: 0845 3000 218

General Medical Council (GMC)

Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

The Fundraising Regulator
2nd Floor
CAN Mezzanine Building
49-51 East Road
N1 6AH

Tel: 0300 999 3407

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

If you are not happy with the reply you get, with the outcome of your complaint or how it was dealt with, you can ask the Health Service Ombudsman to investigate it. The Health Service Ombudsman is a free, independent complaints service. If they decide that the NHS has got things wrong, they can make recommendations to put things right.

Chief Executive Officer

Caudwell Children
Caudwell’s International Children Centre
Innovation Way, Keele Innovation & Science Park

Contact Number: 01782 433 932


Private and Confidential

Caudwell Children
Caudwell’s International Children Centre
Innovation Way, Keele Innovation & Science Park

Charity Commission

Charity Commission First Contact
PO Box 1227
L69 3UG

Contact number: 0345 300 0218