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Epuni Big Boost To CYF Capacity

12 July 2001

Embargoed till 10.30am, 12 July

Child, Youth and Family says the extra 20 beds at the newly opened Epuni Care and Protection Unit in Lower Hutt are a major boost for helping at-risk children and young people. The beds increase by more than half (from 37 to 57) the number of care and protection beds available nationally.

The Epuni unit, the former site of a youth justice facility, has been officially opened today by the Minister of Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey. From the end of this month, the unit will provide secure care and treatment for children and young people who have been abused, neglected or who have problem behaviours.

Margie Michael, the new centre’s manager, says: “The 20 beds will play an important role in helping at-risk youngsters in the Wellington region and nationally. It is very satisfying for us to have these extra resources as we seek to assist some of the most vulnerable youngsters in our community. We will be providing services for children and young people in need of intensive, one-to-one care and therapy in a safe environment.”

The site will have a school, a marae, a cultural centre and facilities for children’s caregivers to come and stay.

Epuni will be a very secure unit to ensure the children and young people are kept safe and also that they do not leave and cause any problems in the community.

“We’re very keen to have a positive, co-operative relationship with local residents as we operate the new unit,” says Margie Michael. “We’re determined to be good neighbours.”

Ends

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