Complaints

Skip navigation

FOI Appeals

Please visit our Freedom Of Information section for information on complaints concerning an FOI Request

As a public sector agency with a major public focus, the Department of Children & Family Services strives to provide best practice service delivery to its clients, and the department acknowledges that effective complaint handling is an integral part of good customer service.

The Department of Children & Family Services holds firmly to the belief that, “Our clients are the focus of our services, our planning and how we measure our success”. However, as with any service agency, customers often have the need to submit complaints, compliments, and suggestions. Feedback from clients helps in the development of services to better meet clients’ needs as it reinforces what is being done correctly and provides positive feedback to staff. This avenue also makes it possible for clients to make suggestions on how services can be improved and enhanced.

The policy as outlined below is based on the recommendations of the Office of the Complaints Commissioner.

Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to give context and direction to the Department of Children & Family Services’ complaint handling procedures. It serves to:

  • Recognize, promote and protect the customer’s right to comment and complain about their dealings with the Department of Children & Family Services;
  • Provide an efficient, fair and accessible framework for resolving customer complaints;
  • Identify how the department will communicate with customers about the complaints handling process;
  • Set standards for dealing with customer complaints; and
  • Acknowledge customers complaints and take remedial steps in an effort to improve the quality of the services provided by the Department of Children & Family Services.

Definition

A complaint is defined as:

“Any indication that an external person or organization is dissatisfied with the services, products or facilities provided by the Department of Children & Family Services”.

The designated officers responsible for receiving and processing complaints are the Director, Deputy Director, Social Work Manager, Human Resource Manager, Supervisors of the District Offices and Programme Supervisors.

The complaint can be received:

  • by letter or on a Department of Children & Family Services feedback form,
  • in person i.e. an individual attending any of the department’s office
  • by telephone,
  • electronically or
  • via a ministerial or Freedom of Information request (upcoming)

The definition includes complaints from members of the public, other government departments, and business or community organizations.

Commitment

Complaints received will be acknowledged within three (3) working days and responses will be provided within 14 calendar days after the complaint has been received. All customer complaints will be handled quickly, fairly, effectively and courteously. In doing so, the Department of Children & Family Services is committed to ensuring the rights of the complainant are protected, as are those of the staff who receive complaints, or who may be the subject of a complaint.

Promoting the Department of Children & Family Services’ Complaint Handling Procedures

The Department of Children & Family Services will ensure that customers are aware of their right to complain by widely promoting its complaint handling procedures. This will include providing information through the Department’s website standardized complaints forms, brochures and verbal contact with staff members.

The Department of Children & Family Services will survey its clients bi-annually to determine customer satisfaction.

Recording Customer Complaints

It is important to record customer complaints in order to:

  • Track progress of complaints
  • Ensure accountability
  • Identify and address root causes
  • Enable data analysis and management reporting.

The Department of Children & Family Services will identify and record all customer complaints. Procedures will be developed to guide staff in identifying a complaint, and ensuring that there are simple processes to record complaints.

A standardized Customer Feedback Form will be used throughout the Department of Children & Family Services for all Department of Children & Family Services Customer Complaints.

Data about complaints will be electronically recorded at one centralized point to allow for the monitoring of complaint procedures, to analyze complaints, and to provide report to management on complaints.

The physical record of all complaints and responses to those complaints will be filed at the Administrative Office of the Department of Children & Family Services to allow for accountability and audit.

Responsibility

It is the responsibility of all staff to respond to customer complaints in a courteous manner and to provide complainants with information on the Department of Children & Family Services complaint handling systems. If staff is unable to handle a particular complaint, the complaint will be recorded and referred to the appropriate person.

Staff has a responsibility to record all customer complaints in compliance with the Department of Children & Family Services procedures.

Confidentiality

In instances where a complaint is lodged on behalf of a client of the Department, information can only be provided to the complainant if the client signs a Release of Information Form permitting the Department to disclose information on them.

Response Standards

The Department is cognizant that the speed of response is consistently identified as being one of the attributes which most influence perceptions of a successful customer response system. This has been taken into consideration in establishing a Complaints procedure for the Department of Children & Family Services.

Standards for response to a customer complaint are as follows:

  • Complaints made in person

Complaints received from a complainant within the island will be handled immediately by the staff member receiving the complaint, or referred to someone who can resolve the matter immediately.

In the instance where a matter cannot be resolved immediately the complainant’s name and contact details will be recorded and the complainant will be contacted within 3 working days of lodging complaint at a minimum, to acknowledge receipt of the complaint and inform the complainant of the progress of the investigation.

  • Telephone

If possible, complaints made by telephone will be answered immediately. If the complaint cannot be resolved immediately it will be responded to within fourteen (14) calendar days of lodging or, at a minimum, acknowledge receipt of the complaint within three (3) days and inform the complainant of the progress of the investigation.

  • E-mail

Complaints received by e-mail will be responded to within fourteen (14) calendar days of making the complaint or, at a minimum, acknowledge receipt of the complaint in three (3) days and inform the complainant of the progress of the investigation.

Complaints received by letter or via a Complaints Registration Form will be responded to in fourteen (14) calendar days. Where a contact telephone number or e-mail address is provided receipt will be acknowledged within three (3) working days. If only an address is provided, a written response will be provided within 14 calendar days.

Monitoring Customer Complaints

Understanding patterns of complaints empowers managers to improve service delivery systems and prioritize resources for future planning.

Supervisors and Programme Managers of the Department of Children & Family Services will analyze and monitor all customer complaints received and provide monthly reports to the Director, Department of Children & Family Services.

Empowering our Staff

Staff is the single most important resource in the complaints handling process. Therefore, the Department of Children & Family Services staff will feel confident in dealing with clients’ complaints and use their comments constructively and in a spirit of improving services:

  • All staff will have easy access to the departmental complaint handling policy and procedures and will be made aware of them by Supervisors.
  • Staff will be aware of and have access to up-to-date policies and procedures.
  • New staff will receive information about the Department of Children & Family Services complaint handling process when they receive orientation in the various areas of service delivery.
  • The Department of Children & Family Services will provide training annually in customer service techniques and complaint handling procedures.

Last Updated: 2010-01-05

Last Updated 2014-06-05