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Thursday, 29 May 2014

Case Review finds drowned baby 'should have been in care'

Written by The Editorial Team

A baby who died while in the care of his drug addict parents may have lived if social workers had taken him into care from birth, a report has found.

Five-month-old Aaron Egan drowned in the bath in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, on 17 July 2010.

Parents Thomas Egan and Chrystine Templeton were originally charged over his death but the case was dropped.

A Significant Case Review concluded the death of the young boy, referred to as Baby E in the report, could not have been anticipated.

However, it also found that "accommodating Baby E at birth... would have prevented his death in these circumstances".

Review officer Andrew Cameron made 17 recommendations for various agencies, centred on issues such as information sharing, leadership and resources.

A redacted report by East Ayrshire Council’s chief officers’ group, responding to the independent findings, notes that the boy was the subject of a multi-agency support plan at the time of his death and that he had previously been on the child protection register.

Prior to his birth, a “high risk pregnancy referral” had been made to social workers by the midwifery service.

Aaron was transferred to “special care” when he was born in February that year and discharged home about six weeks later. Officials decided to remove his name from the child protection register on 26 April that year after a case conference heard how the family was ­engaging well with the agencies involved.

The council’s report found “an incredible amount of effort” was made to support the parents and that the baby had been progressing well under their care.

It went on: “The independent review officer recognised the complex family history and concluded that the death of Baby E could have been prevented if he had been accommodated at birth. The review findings also noted that such a decision in the case of Baby E was extremely difficult given the range of factors which services had to take into account.”

The review further highlighted “missed opportunities” when professionals could have shared information more effectively about the parents’ lifestyle and taken action in response to changes in parental ­circumstances and made immediate decisions about their capacity to continue to care for the child.

In response, East Ayrshire Council pointed to what it said were a range of improvements and developments which have been put in place to keep children safe.

No disciplinary action has been taken against any staff member involved, it confirmed.

Susan Taylor, chair of the child protection committee, said: “The multi-agency child protection team put in place a package of measures to help the family care for Baby E.

“The independent review ­officer recognised that the child protection team tried their level best to support the family, and noted that staff could not have anticipated that this event would happen.”