Enabling Feedback and Complaints from Children

Children may offer feedback or make a complaint about any aspect of the service they have received from the HSE or relevant Service Providers. Their feedback is encouraged and they will be listened to and their views understood. Their complaint will always be taken seriously and be appropriately responded to. Children will be supported to make a complaint and throughout the complaints process. Children also have the right to complain to the Ombudsman for Children, who can accept complaints directly from children up to 18 years of age. They also have the right to have the outcome of their complaint reviewed by the Ombudsman for Children

The welfare of the child is paramount at all times. When a complaint is received that leads to concern about a child’s safety and wellbeing, the HSE must ensure that they act appropriately in the best interests of the child and that Children First (National Guidelines for the Protection and Welfare of Children, 2011) are implemented as appropriate.

Children should be encouraged and supported to feedback to our services. Suitable communication tools must be developed to enable children to be fully aware of their rights to complain as well as to inform them of the complaints process and the supports available to them.

Children are to be made aware by the HSE or Service Providers of available advocacy supports. At all times, care must be taken to ensure that children are appropriately assisted and supported to make a complaint as well as to partake in the management of the complaint consistent with their best interests. Due consideration will be given to the wishes of the child, in as far as is practicable, and in accordance with their age and understanding.

Where the complaint cannot be resolved at the point of contact and the complaint was made by a child on his/her own behalf and if a formal investigation is required, the Complaints Officer will generally inform the parent(s)/ legal guardian of the child of the intention to investigate and advise the child of the intention to involve the parent(s) / legal guardian of the child in the investigation process.

If the child disagrees with the involvement of the parent(s)/legal guardian, or if it is not in the child’s best interest, the Complaints Officer must try to establish any underlying issues and identify the best approach for managing the complaint, having regard to the rights of the parents as enshrined in the Articles of the Constitution dealing with the Rights of the Family (Article 41) and to the rights of the child as enshrined in the Rights of the Child (Article 42A).

Timelines are the same as outlined in this document but may need to be reviewed or extended depending on the complexity and sensitivity of the complaint. The expedient management of a complaint made by or on behalf of a child is advised.

The Ombudsman for Children may intervene at any stage of the complaints process (even if HSE procedures have not been exhausted) if the complaint has been referred to them by the child/ parent(s)/legal guardian and if the Ombudsman for Children feels that reasonable steps were taken by them to rectify their complaint.

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