- Openness & Accessibility - encourage feedback, be open, flexible and supportive. Ensure learning is captured from complaints made by or on behalf of children and used to improve services.
- Best Interests – ensure any decisions or actions you take while managing the complaint is in line with the best interests of the child; use a problem-solving approach that is focused on the best outcome for the child and ensure that any response /outcome clearly demonstrates that approach.
According to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, staff need to consider the following when assessing and determining a child’s best interests:
- Participation of Children - seek and consider the views of the child and do this in accordance with their capacity, age and maturity. Remember all participation is voluntary. Provide support if needed. Enable participation in a way that is comfortable for them and ensure that they are aware of their right to involve a support person.
- Transparency & Communications – inform children of their right to provide feedback, how they can do this and what will happen with their feedback. If a complaint is made, explain the process in relation to the complaint management and how they will be involved in, communicated with and updated during this. Check understanding and address any questions. Always approach in a child-sensitive manner with due regard to capacity, age and maturity.
- Timeliness - early resolution, complete the process in the shortest time possible.
The timelines involved in responding to feedback from Children are the same as outlined in Policy but may need to be reviewed or extended depending on the complexity and sensitivity of the complaint. Any additional time required will need to be communicated and explained. However, the expedient management of a complaint made by or on behalf of a child is advised. Ensure any safety and welfare concerns are addressed urgently.
- Fairness - deal with complaints in a fair and impartial manner and investigate complaints fully in line with Policy. Ensure children, where appropriate, are supported to participate fully. Advise of avenues for review of outcomes.
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.
- Monitoring & Review – keep accurate and complete records and review complaints with regards to identifying and sharing learning, in line with Policy.
Points to note
- Complaints Investigation
Where a complaint cannot be resolved at the point of contact and the complaint was made by a child on his/her own behalf and where an investigation is required, the Complaints Officer must 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. The Complaints Officer should clearly explain the reason for this.
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).