A young girl of about seven or eight years old was found to have contracted two sexually transmitted diseases after being abused in foster care, a report by a child care agency revealed. The report warned against similar cases where vulnerable children were victims of sex abuse while under state child protection plans.
The serious case review published by Croydon Safeguarding Children Board (CSCB) outlined the failures in communication between the child protection agency’s staff members, managers and the foster parents.
The victim, referred to as Claire in the report, was put under foster care because she faced sex abuse at the age of six while living with her mother. There were also concerns about the misuse of drugs and alcohol, and domestic violence at her mother’s place.
Claire again was victim of physical abuse at the hands of her foster father during her 15-month stay, which also led to her contracting gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
After Claire was found to have been sexually exploited by a friend of her mother, she was sent to her paternal grandmother’s house. That arrangement failed after a few months and she was placed under a child protection plan.
Claire was put under the care of a couple, referred to as Mr and Mrs George in the report. Claire reportedly appeared to be walking “splay legged” and complained that her vagina was sore after she spent her first night with the couple. The school took up the matter with the social worker tasked with Claire’s protection. However, the social worker failed to investigate.
The report details many such instances over a period of a year where there were indications that things were not right with Claire under foster care, but no strategic measures were taken to investigate and resolve them.
Claire’s plight came to social worker’s notice only after tests confirmed she had gonorrhea and Chlamydia. The tests were performed following complaints of vaginal sourness and unusual discharges.
An investigation was launched into the incident and Claire was removed from the couple’s foster care and put in an emergency foster placement. Investigations and health tests showed that Mrs George tested positive for gonorrhea and Mr George tested positive for Chlamydia, but it was suspected that Mr George may have received treatment for gonorrhea before the test was done. Claire reportedly never made any disclosures of the sexual abuse experiences.
Claire was the youngest of three children, all of whom were placed under the state’s child protection plan between 2006 and 2010 after concerns over abuse relating to “extreme” domestic violence, drug misuse and alcohol misuse”. However, they were removed from the protection some years later and reintroduced after the domestic conditions failed to improve, according to the report.