A Scots nursery owner has been banned from working in social care after embezzling £113,000 from her childcare businesses to treat herself to personal items.
Over two and a half years Stephanie Porteous, 36, helped herself to £113,000 of fees paid to Lily Pond Nursery in Arbroath and Parkview Nursery in Dundee by trusting parents and guardians.
She had sought to keep her business partner from accessing the finances of each nursery – lest they discover that they were suspiciously light on funds.
The alarm was raised at the end of 2019 – and weeks later Lily Pond was closed and removed from the Care Inspectorate’s list of registered childcare providers to keep Parkview from going under.
Two years on, she can no longer work in the care sector after being handed a ban by the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC).
The watchdog launched an investigation into the allegations of misappropriation and decided there was enough evidence to justify booting her from the register.
Regulators slammed the nursery manager’s “deliberate and premeditated” withdrawals from company accounts on several occasions between July 2017, when the business was first established, and January 2020.
Porteous, they said, had made numerous transactions out of the business bank accounts for both Lily Pond and Parkview.
The SSSC said of the disgraced manager: “You misappropriated funds paid by parents/guardians to the nurseries for which you were the co-owner and manager for a period of two and a half years.
“You did this by using the company bank accounts and funds from these accounts for personal transactions. By your actions, you acted dishonestly.
“Your dishonesty was prolonged, demonstrated by a clear pattern of behavior involving numerous transactions.
“You have shown no insight or remorse for your actions.”
Her behaviour, they concluded, made her “fundamentally incompatible” with continuing to work in the care sector.
It concluded: “You were in a senior role in the business and took advantage of this position to use funds from the nurseries for personal financial gain.
“You significantly abused your position of trust by using nursery monies to purchase items for yourself.
“Your behavior is such that it amounts to a fundamental failure to follow the Codes [of Practice].
“A Removal Order is the most appropriate sanction.”
Police Scotland launched an investigation into the embezzlement after it was first discovered.
However, the Record understands that no charges were ever brought after Porteous agreed to pay the money back in full.
Parkview remains open, and has been praised by the Care Inspectorate for its efforts to improve accountability following the scandal.
The disgraced manager is no longer involved with the business and had lately been working in Glasgow.
She did not answer the findings of the investigation when regulators contacted her last month.
The Record approached her for comment but is yet to receive a response.
Don’t miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond – Sign up to our daily newsletter here.