What to do if you want to make a complaint…

Sometimes, people are unhappy about the service they have received at a child contact centre. This is something that is regrettable, however, it is often quick and easy to seek resolution.

It is in everyone’s interest that minor concerns and more serious complaints are resolved at the earliest possible stage. Many issues can be resolved informally, without the need to use the formal stages of the centres complaints procedure. NACCC accredited centres take concerns seriously and will make every effort to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.

Initially NACCC would advise that if a complainant is unhappy, they should share their concerns verbally with a staff member at the centre. However, if they have difficulty discussing a concern with a particular member of staff, the centre will respect their views. In these cases, a nominate the Centre Manager or someone with complaints responsibility, will handle the concern. Often the complaint will be concluded at this point.

We understand however, that there are occasions when people would like to raise their concerns formally. In this case, the centre will attempt to resolve the issue internally, through the stages outlined within their complaints procedure. 

Often the concern may be something that is covered on the centre’s website or in the information received before contact sessions. It is helpful to check this before raising a formal complaint. If this does not assist and you are still concerned, please request a copy of the centres complaints procedure, directly from the centre, to start the process.

Important considerations

Before making a complaint to a centre, consider the following:

It is important to understand that child contact centres may not always be able to offer you what you want and in particular:

  • Centres may have waiting lists which mean sessions are not available when the parent wants or in some cases, at all.
  • Not all centres can offer all types of contact (supported and supervised). A centre may therefore not accept a parent because they are not equipped to cover the contact needed.
  • Where a centre is required to provide Court with a report, the report has to be independent. This means that parents are unlikely to have input into it and may not agree with everything in the report. If a parent is concerned by anything in the report, they can raise their concerns at Court rather than with the Centre. The Centre is not obliged to alter a report if asked to do so by a parent.
  • Some centres are staffed entirely by volunteers and have limited opening hours – they may take longer to respond than a parent would like.
  • Where the complaint is against a staff member, the Centre’s investigation will need to be confidential to that member of staff and parents will not be made aware if any action has been taken against them as this is an HR matter.

If any of the above apply to the concern, please bear in mind before starting the complaints process that it is unlikely that the Centre will be able resolve the complaint to your satisfaction.

  • If a parent wishes to make a complaint, they will need to be clear about what they are hoping to get from the complaint and what they want the Centre to do to make things better.
  • Where cases are in court, information relating to the case remains the property of the Court and should not therefore, be shared without the specific consent of the Court.

Next Steps

If the complainant believes the Centre did not handle their complaint in accordance with the complaint’s procedure, they can contact NACCC, once they have fully exhausted the centres complaints procedure.

NACCC will not reinvestigate the substance of complaints or overturn any decisions made by Centre. We will consider whether the centre has adhered to their procedure.

Alternatively, you might also choose to complain to the organisation that made the referral to that service (Cafcass or Children’s Services). If you have legal advice you might also want to seek advice if you are unhappy with the service received.

NACCC’s role in complaints handling

As a membership organisation NACCC has no responsibility for the staffing or day-to-day running of member centres; however, NACCC advises, supports, and accredits centres and requires member centres to work to the highest standards.  Whilst centres are members of the NACCC Organisation, each centre is independently managed and run.

NACCC will not therefore, be able to investigate any complaint in detail, they will only look at whether the Centre has handled the complaint in line with their own complaints procedure. NACCC will not comment on the outcome of the complaint, conclusions will solely be based upon how well the procedure was followed.

If NACCC concludes that the Centre has not followed its own procedure, we may ask the Centre to look again at the way in which it has handled the complaint. This may not alter the Centre’s decision. Only the Centre themselves can determine the substance of the complaint so it is always preferable to try to resolve issues direct with the Centre at an early stage.

If the complainant decides to escalate their concern to NACCC they should complete the Complaints Notification Form, available at the bottom of this page, and submit this to : contact@naccc.org.uk.   The form must only be submitted to NACCC after the enquiry has been fully exhausted and/or concluded by the centre and within a twelve-week timescale of the conclusion.

NACCC Oversight

Once the form has been received, if it demonstrates that the process outlined within the centres complaints procedure has not been followed by the complainant, the form will be returned to its author and they will be advised to follow the centre’s complaints procedure.

Please do not send confidential information to NACCC, this will not be considered as part of the complaints process. Any information of this type received will not be filed and will be deleted or destroyed.

Once the form has reached the Complaints Officer at NACCC, 10 working days are allocated for the information on the form to be reviewed. During this time the complainant and the centre may or may not be contacted dependent upon the nature of the information shared.

On or prior to the 10th working day, the Complaints Officer will send a response to the complainant and the Contact Centre.

Should the complainant remain unhappy with the resolution offered by the Complaints Officer this can be escalated to the CEO/Trustees in writing using the above email address. The CEO/Trustees will respond within 10 working days of receipt. Their remit is only to consider if the Centre followed its procedure correctly. They cannot investigate your complaint in detail.

The decision of the CEO/Trustees is final.

Complaints form can be located below