The social worker failed to update Tusla on child protection issues

A senior social worker was found to be responsible for professional misconduct and poor job performance over the inappropriate placement of children in foster homes and failure to educate Tusla about child safeguarding issues.

The eligibility to practice investigation by CORU – the Inspectorate of Health and Social Care Workers – found a number of substantiated claims about John Martin, the former head of nursing services at Fresh Start, a Carlow-based provider of childcare services.

It followed a public inquiry that took place over eight days between November 2021 and March 2022 and investigated complaints about Mr Martin that were first reported to CORU in 2017. These complaints arose from the findings of highly critical reports from the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA). after inspections by Fresh Start.

CORU’s Professional Conduct Committee investigated 17 different allegations relating to children placed in foster homes in the central Leinster area.

Evidence was heard that many of the placements ended abruptly, with some cases requiring Gardaí to issue emergency care orders.

In one of its key findings, the committee said it was professional misconduct and poor professional performance on Mr Martin’s part to place seven children in a care home on dates between January 2015 and February 2016 when it knew it was inappropriate and breached an agreement that had been reached Tusla at a meeting on December 18, 2014. The investigation revealed that several of the children had complex needs.

The committee chair, Susan Ahern, said Mr Martin knew from the meeting that no further children should be placed with any particular foster family until concerns that had been raised about them were resolved.

Ms Ahern said the social worker felt the foster parents were licensed and able to carry out their duties.

Mr Martin told the inquest 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 never documented such views or brought them to the attention of Tusla at the December 2014 meeting.

Mr Martin admitted facts related to most of the allegations, including that he had failed to set up a system to notify authorities of critical incidents, but denied that they were violations of CORU’s Code of Conduct and Ethics.

The social worker admitted to placing five children in the care of foster families at various times in 2015, although he knew this was inappropriate as it exceeded the authorized maximum. The social worker failed to update Tusla on child protection issues

Fry Electronics Team

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