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Child, Youth And Family's "Unallocated" Cases

MEDIACOM-RELEASE-CHILD, YOUTH AND FAMILY

CHILD, YOUTH AND FAMILY'S "UNALLOCATED" CASES

Child, Youth and Family had 3143 unallocated cases nationwide as of today. The number has been building steadily this calendar year. The 3143 figure is above the normal unallocated rate of about 2000 cases (this represents about a month's work on hand at any one time and is the usual situation.)

Unallocated means only that the case has not been formally assigned to a social worker for ongoing case management, not that no action has been taken following a notification of abuse, neglect or some form of problem behaviour.

Where children are considered at high risk the Department acts immediately to establish their safety. All of the unallocated cases will have been assessed for urgency and monitoring put in place where appropriate.

The rise to 3143 unallocated cases is the result of a number of factors, including 3022 notifications to Child, Youth and Family last month - the highest number on record - amid significant media and public attention on child abuse. The usual number of notifications is about 2300 a month.

Each of the 3143 cases will have been assigned a time for an investigation to begin, either same day (critical), within two days (very urgent), seven days (urgent) or 28 days (low urgency).

Critical and very urgent cases are being responded to within the required timeframes. Timeliness with responding to urgent and low urgency cases is not as good as it should be. These urgent and low urgent cases are generally concerned with issues that are not considered a threat to a child's safety.

The Department acknowledges that the size of the current waiting list for allocation to a social worker for ongoing case management is concerning. This kind of situation is familiar in other demand- driven services, such as the Police and the health sector, but it is regrettable nonetheless.

Besides the rise in notifications, another reason for the rise in unallocated cases is the increasing complexity of cases, particularly those involving children and young people with mental health problems. This is staff and time intensive work if it is to be done properly.

Child, Youth and Family is responding to the rise in unallocated cases by:

* Building a detailed analysis of each site's capacity and capability to respond to increased intake and caseloads. This is expected to be completed within a week.

* Developing individual site plans, based on the detailed analysis. These plans will be closely monitored from National Office.

* Assessing the feasibility of establishing a ready response team. We see this as a high priority.

"We welcome the recent intense interest in child welfare - we need the community to take ownership of the problem of child abuse and neglect," says Child, Youth and Family's service delivery general manager Ken Rand.

"It's great that people are reporting more. The challenge for us now is to beef up our response to reduce unallocated cases to a more normal situation. We are committed to doing that as soon as we can." Area figures for unallocated cases around the country are:

Auckland 651

Canterbury 94

Central 193

East 77

Hamilton 507

Northland 159

Rotorua 310

South Auckland 312

Southern 184

Tauranga 222

Upper South 222

Wellington 135

West 77

TOTAL 3143

ENDS

MEDIA RELEASE FROM CHILD, YOUTH AND FAMILY

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