A young girl in the U.K. contracted two sexually transmitted diseases after being molested by her foster parent.
The 7-year-old girl, known as “Claire” in the official report, had previously been removed from her home after being sexually abused by a 32-year-old man who was associated with her brother, according to the Daily Mail.
Shortly after being delivered into the care of foster parents, the girl was subjected to more sexual abuse, contracting gonorrhea and Chlamydia as a result. The abuse was not discovered until over a year later.
An investigation conducted by Croydon Safeguarding Children Board (CSCB) in South London found that there was a lack of communication between social workers involved with Claire’s case.
The first error occurred when social workers reportedly failed to take the steps necessary to allow for Claire to remain in her grandmother’s care. She had been cared for by her grandmother immediately after being removed from her household following the initial abuse.
“This practice fell below expected standards and, had the correct level of support been provided, it may have been entirely possible that [the child] could have remained within the care of her extended family,” the review said, according to Community Care.
While social workers had no reason to believe that Claire’s foster father would sexually abuse her, certain details that may have disqualified him were missed due to “minimal” communication between the various people working on the case.
For instance, concerns about the fact that the man would be caring for Claire alone, as opposed to with his spouse, went unaddressed. Furthermore, evidence that the couple had a history of lying was not properly dealt with.
“The social worker and the supervising social worker worked in different teams; they had different roles and responsibilities; were managed by different line managers; and used different data recording systems,” the review said.
“Close working relationships between these social workers was therefore difficult to achieve and, [while] there were no structural barriers to achieving a close working relationship, the structures in place did not sufficiently facilitate this relationship,” it continued.
The chair of CSCB, Sarah Baker, said there were “lessons to be learned” from the incident:
The review found no evidence that anything at the time could have indicated this foster carer was likely to sexually abuse a child in his care. However there are still lessons to be learned and actions were immediately taken to tighten up a variety of processes. Staff have also received additional training and guidance to increase their awareness and understanding. I will ensure the findings from this review are built into our future action plan.
Baker added that Claire is currently “doing well” under the care of new foster parents.
Sources: Daily Mail, Community Care / Photo credit: trialsanderrors/Flickr