A couple who were hoping to adopt a relative who was living in care were let down by several failures by Nottinghamshire County Council, a new report shows.
The couple, who have been kept anonymous but named Mr and Mrs B in the report, were led to believe they could they could adopt the child – referred to as C – in June last year.
But this never happened, and now the council has been told to pay £1,000 in compensation as a ‘goodwill gesture’, apologise to the couple, and review its policies.
A review of the case by the independent ombudsman has found that the council was at fault over a number of issues.
In particular, the report is critical of the lack of communication between two different departments at the Conservative-led Nottinghamshire County Council.
It said: “The children’s team and the family and friend fostering teams did not work together effectively and this contributed to Mr and Mrs B being given mixed messages about the long-term care of C.
“The council is at fault for not explaining the foster to adopt and the family and friends fostering options clearly to Mr and Mrs B.
“It is also at fault for not correcting their belief that C would definitely be placed with them.
“The outcome of these failures was that Mr and Mrs B believed they would be able to adopt C and prepared for this.
“Mr and Mrs B spent money on adapting their home and buying equipment.
“They also invested emotionally. Further to this, the lack of working together between the two council departments hindered the complaints process and caused Mr and Mrs B further distress.
“The £1000 “goodwill gesture” offered by the council covers the money Mr and Mrs B spent preparing for C to come and live with them.
“It does not remedy the avoidable distress Mr and Mrs B experienced because of the council’s faults. Mr and Mrs B believed C would live with them.
“The council knew this, had opportunities to correct their misunderstanding but did not.”
The council has now been told by the ombudsman to: “review its fostering and adoption policies and procedures to make sure the information given to potential foster carers and adopters is clear and accurate.”
Managers involved with the case have also been told they need to receive complaint management training.
Steve Edwards is the service director for youth, families and social work at the council, and said: “The council has accepted the conclusions and recommendations of the ombudsman’s report and acknowledges that there were failures in communication in this case.
“The council has fully apologised for its mistakes. In line with the ombudsman’s recommendations, the council will review staff guidance, update it where necessary and re-issue to staff.”
Kit Sandeman , Local Democracy Reporting Service