A social work student who formed an inappropriate relationship with the father of two vulnerable children while on a statutory placement has been struck off.
Paula Stevens was training at Southampton Council as a social services assistant between March and September 2009 when she was appointed as the children’s social worker.
She formed a relationship with their father in September but failed to disclose this to her employer until weeks later, when confronted by a manager who had received reports about the matter.
Stevens further blurred the professional boundaries by allowing the children to stay at her home while their mother was in hospital.
Her actions left the children and their mother, who was also deemed to be vulnerable, “distressed and confused”, a General Social Care Council conduct committee found.
Stevens, who did not attend the hearing, only admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with the man when interviewed by Dawn Maxwell, interim board manager for the area’s local safeguarding children board, in October 2009.
The conduct committee acknowledged that she had at that stage fully admitted the relationship. It also considered the fact that, as a student, she was new to the profession.
However, it concluded that removal was the only appropriate sanction, because Stevens had shown a “blatant disregard for professional boundaries”.
“Although [Stevens] was a student, she was described as the children’s allocated social worker and subject to the same codes of practice,” the committee said.
“As such, she was responsible for the care and welfare of the children and she failed to provide an acceptable level of care for them.
“The committee considered this behaviour to be an abuse of trust and a reckless act taken by one so new to the profession.”