Social worker cautioned after failing to properly assess child’s aunt and uncle

The practitioner admitted 'losing sight' of the necessary safeguarding standards and procedures, the Health and Care Professions Council heard.

A social worker who placed a baby with its aunt and uncle before completing all the expected safeguarding checks has been cautioned by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

A panel of the HCPC’s conduct and competence committee heard that Carolyne Clark had failed to include in her viability assessment in 2012 any explanation of who would care for the child when the couple was at work, who else would have contact with the baby and any notes on their parenting style.

Clark’s manager raised concerns about the gaps in the assessment, but Clark went ahead and placed the child with its aunt and uncle anyway.

A council investigation into Clark’s actions revealed that she had failed to initiate police checks on the child’s extended family. At a resulting disciplinary hearing, she was given a first and final warning.

The HCPC panel decided that, since Clark’s actions were a one-off in an otherwise unblemished career, it amounted to misconduct rather than a lack of competence.

“Mrs Clark was aware of the necessary safeguarding standards and procedures and acknowledged that she had ‘lost sight’ of them,” the panel concluded. “She had failed to reflect on and follow management advice and allowed external pressures to affect her practice.”

While the panel felt that Clark had shown insight and remorse for her actions, it decided that a caution order lasting three years should be issued. Clark left Calderdale council in April due to ill health.

She did not attend the HCPC’s hearing.

Read the full notice of decision

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