Blind social worker suspended after children burnt in fire

A social worker has been suspended after three children she was supposed to take to a place of safety suffered burns in a fire at their home.

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A social worker has been suspended after three children she was supposed to take to a place of safety suffered burns in a fire at their home.

Roya Eskandari was working part-time for Edinburgh Council when she was allocated to the family, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

At a children’s hearing on 15 December 2005, Place of Safety Orders were made in respect of four of the children, requiring social services to remove them from home.

But Eskandari failed to act on the orders before going on annual leave on 22 December, a conduct sub-committee of the Scottish Social Services Council was told. A week later, three of the children were harmed in a fire at the family home, with one suffering serious burns.

At a conduct hearing in June, the sub-committee was told that the family should not have been allocated to Eskandari, who is registered blind.

The committee cited a letter to the social worker dated 29 November 2005, in which Edinburgh’s head of service development in social work services, Pam Smith, wrote: “I have concluded that you cannot undertake work with very vulnerable children in need who are at risk of abuse or neglect without expert assistance.”

Yet the sub-committee was told that the children and families team was under considerable stress and pressure, so there were limitations on the support available to Eskandari.

There had also been a delay in meeting her prior requests for extra training and “reasonable adjustments” to cope with her disability in the workplace.

Eskandari expressed her regret for the incident and apologised, and said she had no intention of returning to child protection work.

The sub-committee suspended her for one year to give her “an opportunity to take stock of her career options”.

It concluded: “A suspension order would achieve an appropriate balance between protecting the public and giving the registrant sufficient time to address her learning and experiential needs.”

Read the full notice of decision

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