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Key points

  • This policy safeguards and protects children, young people and vulnerable adults by providing a process for them to raise concerns about the service they are receiving.
  • It includes information on the process for responding to complaints and representations made by, or on behalf of people using a Barnardo’s children’s service or business line. This includes children, young people, ETS trainees, carers and adopters.
  • We want to make sure that our complaints process is open, fair and accessible. ​​​​​
  • We will learn from complaints and representations and use that learning to improve our services.

Your responsibilities

  • Region/nation/business line director should maintain an overview of complaints received in the region or nation or business line and address any issues arising from these, adjudicate at Stage 2/Investigation stage if the complaint is about an ADCS or head of business line and manage the Stage 3 process and inform their region/nation/business line complaints lead manager when told of a complaint about a children’s service or business line made elsewhere in Barnardo’s. 
  • Assistant director children’s services or equivalent should review the complaints and representations received in the services they are responsible for and address any issues arising from these, investigate complaints where appropriate (this includes ensuring management investigation if a complaint is made about a service by someone not entitled to bring a complaint under the complaints policy or other Barnardo’s internal process) and ensure that the members of staff in their locality/business line are implementing the complaints policy. They should ensure that there is agreement with any partner agency on the protocols, concerning complaints to be followed in a service they are responsible for.
  • Responsible managers and school principals are responsible for ensuring that the staff and volunteers that they are responsible for understanding and implementing the complaints policy; for ensuring that users of the service understand their right to complain and for investigating complaints where appropriate. They should ensure that there are protocols in place with partner agencies concerning complaints. 
  • Barnardo’s workers give written complaints information to service users with explanation; review this regularly and report complaints made to them to their line manager.
  • Complaints lead manager role is a region/nation/business line ADCS or equivalent task allocated by the relevant director. They can delegate the function. The R/N/BL complaints lead manager has responsibility a) for co-ordinating the management of CS/BL complaints across their region/nation/business line, b) for providing training, support and advice to staff in respect of complaints, c) for seeking advice as appropriate from the complaints officer, business support, safeguarding and planning team, d) for providing information to the regional/national/business line management team about complaints, and e) for contributing to the development of organisational policy and practice in relation to complaints.
  • Complaints administrator has responsibility for maintaining information about complaints made, for the region/nation/business line and providing support to the region/nation/business line complaints lead manager.
  • Business support, safeguarding and planning team, Barnardo House children’s services - the head of business support (HoBS) is children’s and business line services complaints officer with responsibilities delegated to business support officer and business support assistant. Business support must be informed about children’s services and business line complaints and has a monitoring and advisory function.


A complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction or disquiet about the standard of a children’s service including associated line management and the actions or lack of action by the service towards an individual child or young person or other service user.

A representation (or informal complaint under The Education (Non-Maintained Special Schools) (England) Regulations 2011) is comment or feedback from an individual or group about a service. It could be positive or negative. It requires some response and this could involve making changes to how a service is delivered.

Download policy documents

31 January 2019
Latest update
31 January 2019
  1. 31 January 2019
    First published