Payout for childminders

    A couple who undertook sponsored childminding and fostering for
    a local authority are to receive £7,000 in compensation after
    the council bungled an investigation into a child abuse allegation
    against them.

    Sutton Council in South London has agreed to pay the
    compensation after the local government ombudsman found the couple
    had been unfairly treated and unnecessarily deprived of seven
    months’ earnings.

    A child protection investigation was launched after a parent of
    a child being cared for by the local authority-sponsored
    childminders reported sexual behaviour by one of her children.

    The investigation lasted more than seven months instead of the
    maximum 15 days specified in Children Act 1989 guidance. It was 15
    weeks before the couple were told of the nature of the allegations
    against them, of their right to appeal, and that their registration
    had been cancelled.

    But an external investigation, four months after the allegation
    had been made, concluded that the in-house investigation had been
    flawed as the social worker who conducted it had failed to examine
    any files or discussed the matter with the complainant’s social
    worker.

    The consultant concluded that the couple should not be prevented
    from caring for children and should be supported by the council to
    resume. However, the council decided not to send the childminders
    this report. The couple has now given up fostering because of the
    stress of the investigation.

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