Social worker failed to notify Tusla of child protection issues
25th July 2022
- A senior social worker was found to be responsible for professional misconduct and poor professional performance over the inappropriate placing of children in foster homes and a failure to notify Tusla about child protection issues.
A fitness to practise inquiry by CORU – the regulatory body of health and social care professionals – found a series of allegations proven about John Martin, the former director of fostering services at Fresh Start, a Carlow-based childcare service provider.
It followed a public inquiry held over eight days between November 2021 and March 2022 which examined complaints about Mr Martin which were first notified to CORU in 2017. Those complaints arose from the findings of highly critical reports by The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) following inspections of Fresh Start.
CORU’s Professional Conduct Committee examined 17 different allegations which related to children placed in care in foster homes in the mid-Leinster area.
Evidence was heard that many of the placements ended abruptly, with some cases requiring gardaí to make emergency care orders.
- In one of the main findings, the committee said it was professional misconduct and poor professional performance of Mr Martin to place seven children in a foster home on dates between January 2015 and February 2016 when he knew it was inappropriate and contrary to an agreement reached with Tusla at a meeting on December 18, 2014. The inquiry heard several of the children had complex needs.
The committee’s chairperson, Susan Ahern, said Mr Martin knew from the meeting no further children should be placed with a certain foster family until concerns that had been raised about them had been addressed.
Ms Ahern said the social worker was of the view that the foster carers were approved and capable of carrying out their duties.
Mr Martin told the inquiry his actions in relation to the placements were “good and safe” and he believed he was doing the right thing for the children.
However, Ms Ahern said he had never documented such views or brought them to the attention of Tusla at the meeting in December 2014.
Mr Martin made admissions of facts in relation to most charges, including that he failed to establish a system for notifying the authorities of critical incidents, but denied they constituted breaches of CORU’s Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics.
The social worker admitted placing five children in the care of a foster family at various times during 2015 when he knew it was inappropriate as it was in excess of the maximum number approved.