A young care leaver was left without adequate support and assistance after Bridgend County Borough Council failed to plan effectively for her departure from care, the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales has found.

The Ombudsman launched an investigation after receiving a complaint from Ms G’s foster carer, Ms F, that the local authority had not adequately managed the arrangement by which Ms G was living with her. Ms F complained that by failing to clarify her status as a foster carer or putting any support in place to maintain that arrangement, the Council didn’t provide Ms G with adequate support after she left its care.

The Ombudsman found that the Council’s failure to plan effectively for Ms G’s departure from care meant she had been denied the opportunity of having an appropriately resourced transitional living arrangement that could have improved her life chances. He also noted that the Council’s failings led to Ms F suffering financial hardship, which placed avoidable pressure on her relationship with her foster child.

He also found that the Council had failed to pay due regard to Ms F’s and Ms G’s right to respect for their private and family life, home and correspondence as set out in Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998.

In addition, the Ombudsman’s investigation found that the Council, when responding to Ms F’s original complaint, failed to adhere to guidance about handling complaints related to social services. He said that the investigation of Ms F’s initial complaint had not been balanced and gave the impression of “partiality”.

Commenting on the report, Nick Bennett, Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, said:

“This is a shocking case where a catalogue of failings by the local authority led to a young care leaver and her foster carer being left without the support to which they were entitled.

“These failings are even more disappointing given Ms G’s ongoing vulnerability, her care leaver status and the practice principles that Local Authorities are expected to follow when making decisions about young people leaving care.

“There was a failure to put a clear arrangement in place for this young person’s departure from care and transition to adulthood, which is a clear dereliction of the Council’s duty of care. In addition, related documentation was flawed, and Ms F’s original complaint was handled poorly, which only added to the stress and anxiety suffered by Ms G and Ms F.”

The Ombudsman recommended that Bridgend County Borough Council should apologise to Ms F and Ms G for the failings identified. He also asked the council to pay Ms F and Ms G £8500 each in recognition of the impact the failings he identified on their lives.

Bridgend County Borough Council has agreed to several recommendations, including:

  • A full review of pathway planning documentation for all care leavers.
  • Providing pathway planning training to all relevant staff.
  • Providing training on human rights considerations and their implications when working with young people leaving care.
  • A full review of its approach to complaint handling, including the commissioning of Independent Investigators and quality control in scrutinising commissioned reports.

The Ombudsman is pleased to note that the Council has said that it will continue to provide support to Ms G.

To read the report, click here.