A Welsh social worker has been made subject to a removal order, which effectively removes her from the social work register for life, after being found to have sent pictures of herself in her underwear to the foster carer of a child she was working with.
A social worker from Wales has been struck off following a fitness to practise hearing where she was found to have sent pictures of herself in the shower to a male foster carer she was entrusted to support.
The female social worker was working as a supervising social worker for an organisation that refers to itself as ‘one of the most respected independent fostering agencies in the UK’. Through her employment she was assigned case responsibility for a couple who were fostering a child placed with the independent agency by a local authority.
A Social Care Wales fitness to practise panel convened this week heard that within less than a month of becoming professionally involved with the family, the social worker started initiating inappropriate conversations with Mr C, with one of the child’s carers, via social media.
The panel’s investigations showed that:
The inappropriate exchanges came to light when Mr C’s partner found them while using his iPad. Alongside the sexual messages and images of the social worker in her underwear, Mr C’s partner also found messages from the social worker which said:
Giving evidence to the panel was Mrs K, the head of fostering at the independent fostering agency that employed the social worker. During the hearing Mrs K shared how Mr C’s partner was “upset and distressed” at the messages and sexual images she found on Mr C’s iPad. She went on to describe to the panel how Mr C’s partner was “completely surprised to see communications and images” of the type she found, despite being that “aware Mr C and the social worker had contact from time to time”.
After his partner found the messages Mr C then talked about the social worker “not being fit to practice as a social worker and wanted her reported” because he believed she should not be “working with children or adults in a social worker capacity”.
In putting her agency’s evidence before the panel, Mrs K expressed her feelings that their employees messages about loving Mr C were surprising as, at the time those messages were sent, she had only know him for three weeks.
Alongside the inappropriate sexual exchanges, the panel also heard that:
Mrs K detailed the processes that her agency had taken before referring their employee to Social Care Wales. This initially involved arranging a meeting to discuss the concerns that had been raised after Mr C’s partner found the messages which spurred Mr C to feel the social worker should not be “working with children or adults in a social worker capacity”.
In this meeting, Mrs K told the panel how her employee was “quiet and tearful” and had been left “devastated” by the whole experience. She explained to Mrs K that she had thought of Mr C “as a friend, not a colleague” and that shift in perceptions saw her interactions with him change.
Reflecting on her professional role, she told Mrs K that she had decided to never work as a social worker again
The fitness to practise hearing ruled that the social worker had breached her duty of confidentiality, failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries and failed to protect the child placed in the care of Mr C and his partner by not prioritising their interests and well-being.
The social worker has been made subject to a removal order, which has effectively removed her from the social work register for life.