Children's complaints systems

We work to ensure that organisations which provide goods or services to children, such as doctors, schools and the police, have effective and accessible systems in place which allow children to express their concerns if things go wrong. The law which steers our work says that we can investigate children and young people’s complaints processes.

Our priorities

  • Accessibility

We will be assessing the extent to which school complaint systems are accessible to children and young people.

Our previous work

  • Youth justice and the secure estate

We made recommendations in our report Why are they going to listen to me? which resulted in an improvement in the way complaints from young people were handled. It also helped to break down some of the barriers which prevented them from raising concerns.

  • Commons principles for a child friendly complaints process

We involved children and young people, as well as doctors and other health professionals, in developing common principles for child friendly health complaint systems. These have been implemented by GPs and other healthcare providers around the country.

The Youth Justice Board (YJB) committed to improve young people’s confidence in its complaints systems. They published a Review of the Complaints System in the Secure Estate for Children and Young People which recommended the system implemented our recommendations.

  • Immigration Removal Centres

Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre improved its policies and systems relating to children’s complaints significantly as a result of our work.

HMI (Prisons) backed our robust stance on the work of the UK Border Agency (UKBA) (now called UK Visas and Immigration) and the Government announced an end to children being detained within the immigration system.


Our work on complaints systems has particular focus and relevance to the following Articles of the UNCRC: 3 and 12.

Find out more about the UNCRC.

Learn more about our work on child poverty...

Below are some questions about complaints systems. You can find more questions and information on our Get Advice pages.

Questions about Children's complaints systems

My children’s home has a complaints procedure, but can I still complain to my local authority if I want to?

Yes, the law is clear that children and young people who are looked after, or who have left care, have a legal right to make a complaint about their care to the local authority (Section 26

I think my school has broken the law in how it has dealt with me. Who should I complain to?

The first thing to do is to speak to your parents, social worker, care worker or foster parent and get their support. You will then need to complain to the school about what they have done.

I want to complain about my treatment at hospital. How do I do this?

If something goes wrong and you need to complain, there is always someone at the hospital whose job it is to deal with this.  It is called the Patient Advice and Liaison Service – or PALS for short

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