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New centre for at-risk children and young people

Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey today officially opened the Epuni Care and Protection Unit for helping at-risk children and young people.

The Lower Hutt facility will increase by 20 - from 37 to 57 - the number of care and protection beds Child, Youth and Family has nationally. The first residents will be in the centre by the end of this month.

“The extra capacity Epuni is providing is much-needed but more is needed still.

“In Budget 2001, the Government set aside $25 million in additional funding to help Child, Youth and Family develop a range of new purpose-built residences. By 2004, a further 23 beds are due to become available in Auckland and Christchurch," Mr Maharey said.

“Care and protection facilities such as Epuni are vital for helping children and youth address a variety of serious personal problems in an intensive way. They are therefore an essential ingredient in the mix of state and community-provided services aimed at improving outcomes for at-risk youngsters.”

Epuni is the third new centre to come on stream under the Residential Services Strategy. The first two are Te Poutama Arahi Rangatahi in Christchurch and the Lower North Youth Justice facility in Palmerston North.

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