£1,000 for girl with autism for fail­ures in care

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

HILLING­DON Coun­cil has been found to have failed an autis­tic girl.

Now the au­thor­ity is to give her foster par­ents £1,000 (twice the amount stip­u­lated by the om­buds­man) be­cause of the in­jus­tice caused to the child, known only as ‘X’.

The Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Om­buds­man (LGO) found that the coun­cil had ‘failed to take proper ac­count of the child’s wishes and feel­ings and the views of oth­ers when mak­ing plans for her long-term care ar­range­ments’.

In re­sponse, Fran Beasley, the coun­cil’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “We are sorry for the de­lay that oc­curred in this case and we have apol­o­gised to the child and her car­ers. We will en­sure that they re­ceive any support that may be needed.

“The coun­cil has now ad­dressed the is­sues raised in the re­port to the sat­is­fac­tion of the LGO and made im­prove­ments to the ser­vice to en­sure that it is not re­peated.”

The com­plaint against the coun­cil stemmed from de­lays in set­tling the girl’s fu­ture.

The girl, who is now seven years old, was re­moved from her birth fam­ily aged about two and a half. She had been chron­i­cally ne­glected and pos­si­bly phys­i­cally and sex­u­ally abused.

A care plan, which a lo­cal au­thor­ity must draw up for ev­ery child in its care, was worked out for her and she was placed in foster care. After this did not work out, be­cause of her com­plex needs and chal­leng­ing be­hav­iour, she was moved to another foster fam­ily in 2011, where she re­mains.

But be­tween then and now, the coun­cil has failed to set­tle on a long-term plan, some­thing which caused ‘an ex­tended pe­riod of un­cer­tainty for a vul­ner­a­ble child’, a ‘se­ri­ous fail­ure caus­ing sub­stan­tial in­jus­tice’, ac­cord­ing to the re­port by the om­buds­man.

In find­ing the coun­cil at fault, the om­buds­man rec­om­mended that it should re­view X’s fu­ture as quickly as pos­si­ble, re­view so­cial work prac­tices and pay her foster par­ents £500 for them ‘to spend on X as they con­sider ap­pro­pri­ate’ in or­der t o recog­nise the un­cer­tainty and dis­tress caused ‘by faults in the coun­cil’s ac­tions’.

The coun­cil has said the support plan given to the girl’s car­ers was the most gen­er­ous and com­pre­hen­sive it has ever put to­gether, but it ac­cepted the re­port’s rec­om­men­da­tions.

Ms Beasley said: “Given the cir­cum­stances and in light of the om­buds­man’s rec­om­men­da­tion to give the fam­ily £500 to spend on the child, the coun­cil has de­cided to dou­ble this fig­ure.”

In 2012, Hilling­don Coun­cil paid out £35,000 in da­m­ages to Steven Neary, an autis­tic man, after it had un­law­fully de­prived him of his lib­erty in a care dis­pute that had be­gun three years ear­lier.

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