A LOCAL government ombudsman has criticised a council for withdrawing vital support for a child with mental health difficulties.

A report released today has revealed Isle of Wight Council wrongly withdrew social services support from a child in need leading to the cancellation of a vital residential school placement.

Ombudsman Dr Jane Martin said: “Given the view of the child's consultant psychiatrist, I do not consider there is any doubt that proper and timely review of her residential placement would have confirmed the need for it to continue.

“So she was wrongly deprived of the continuity of care and security that is so vital to her wellbeing... And her parents and siblings had significantly less relief from her challenging and at times frightening behaviour.”

The 13-year-old girl, who suffered from autistic spectrum disorder, reactive attachment disorder and bipolar disorder, was sectioned under the Mental Health Act in 2006.

But children's services wrongly withdrew its involvement from the girl's case- leading to a complaint by the child's father.

In 2007 the council funded a residential school placement for her.

But in 2008 the council discontinued its social services involvement with the family- something it was wrong to do according to the Ombudsman because the girl remained a child in need under the Children Act and was being accommodated by the council.

The next year the council decided to stop the residential element of the school placement because social services were no longer involved.

Despite her parents' objections, from September 2010 her residential placement was cut back to two nights a week and the placement completely broke down in the summer of 2011.

The report which was written after the father complained to the Ombudsman in 2010 said the effect of the council's failures was serious and reached a verdict that maladministration caused injustice.

Isle of Wight Council has now agreed to the recommendations. It must now say sorry to the family, paying £5,000 compensation to the girl to be used for educational purposes, pay the parents £2,000 for family use, pay the father a further £250 for his time to pursue the complaint and to carry out a review of its practices and procedures to ensure it learns lessons from the complaint and to provide the parents with a copy of the resulting action plan.