Social workers from Birmingham City Council lost track of a now teenage girl with complex learning difficulties for four years.
The girl was identified by social workers in November 2006 at the age of seven. Her problems included autism, dyspraxia, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Her mother was offered ten hours of support per week
However, according to a report by the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO), the council then lost contact with the family until March 2011, Social workers then failed to properly assess the family’s current needs properly, not completing out three separate assessments.
The girl’s mother, a single parent, then complained to the LGO and the council promised a further assessment, but this was also not carried out. By the time the girl turned 15 last year, she had developed physical impairments and needed help with washing and dressing.
The Council has now agreed to pay the mother £5,000 in compensation for the failures and the time she spent complaining to the Ombudsman.
A spokesperson for the council said: “We have made improvements to our procedures, including increased senior management oversight and an updated system for responding to complaints, including the tracking of any follow-up action and gathering customer feedback. We have also put in place further staff training to improve quality of single assessments.”
Dr Jane Martin of the LGO said:
“For much of this girl’s life, her mother has been left to bring up her child alone and without much help from the council. Birmingham City Council has had no idea what her needs were or those of her mother. And when they made attempts to assess her, the council admits its service was poor, unsupportive and not focused on an outcome for the girl.”
“The council has failed to provide me with evidence that it knows what this girl’s needs are, what her mother’s needs are as a carer and how those needs can be met in the future. It has singularly failed to assess the family’s needs and cannot possibly say that the direct payments it has offered to the family are sufficient.”
Photo of Victoria Square in Birmingham by Cristian Bortes via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence