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