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Mistakes, omissions and shortfalls diminish life

Media Release Hon Roger McClay Commissioner for Children 27 February 2001

"Mistakes, omissions and shortfalls diminish life quality"

"The Department of Child, Youth and Family Services has appropriately acknowledged practice failures in the case of Sade Trembath."

"I acknowledge the findings which identify that the Department failed to adequately assess Patricia Bisset as an appropriate caregiver and then failed to monitor Sade’s placement with her. I have been fully involved in the review process and I congratulate the Department on the thoroughness of the review. That said I am alarmed and disturbed by further evidence that the Department has failed in its statutory duty. I will be seeking assurances that the casework deficits will not be tolerated in future. Implementation of the Whakaruru report recommendations will no doubt assist in future cases like this.

It is clear that there were early indicators of concern which were not appropriately responded to and there was reliance on family decision making in the absence of skilled social work assessment and monitoring.

The fact that Sade was placed in a situation of risk, was inadequately monitored and then subsequently received serious injury is unacceptable. Sade deserved better from the Department.

Everyone who is given custody of and responsibility for a child in New Zealand needs to be adequately and systematically checked and then monitored.

This sorry case is a stark reminder that even family members can sometimes be unsuitable as caregivers.

Mistakes, omissions and shortfalls in practice must not be tolerated when they will contribute to serious life affecting consequences. Sade’s future is seriously affected and her life quality severely diminished.

For further information contact: Roger McClay, telephone 04 471-1410.

Office of the Commissioner for Children Level 12, 86-90 Lambton Quay PO Box 5610 Lambton Quay WELLINGTON

phone: 4711 410 phone fax: 4711 418 fax

email: email

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