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CYFS Managers Forced To Take On Abuse Cases

ACT Social Services Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman today revealed that a number of Managers of Department of Child Youth and Family Services' centres are having to handle child abuse cases - despite this being against the department's policy.

"Answers to my Parliamentary questions show that as at April 9 some 77 cases were being handled by managers, even though Minister Steve Maharey says in his response they `should not carry caseloads...'.

"I believe the Minister himself is responsible for this situation. Since I started asking detailed questions last year about the numbers of unallocated cases which were in the `critical' category - that is those that should have been seen by a social worker within 24 hours - the Minister has conducted an orchestrated campaign to sanitise the figures.

"I think it was the Minister who pushed through a new policy late last year whereby critical cases are now magically both notified and allocated at the same time. And yet answers to some of my earlier Parliamentary questions this year show that nothing has really changed - some cases which should be seen by a social worker within 24 hours are still not being seen in that time.

"It seems to me the Minister is putting pressure on his frontline staff to sanitise the figures and so save himself from embarrassment. Clearly the pressure is now becoming so great that managers themselves are having to take on cases.

"This raises questions both about the type of care some of the young children notified to CYFS are receiving - and about the way CYFS centres are being managed. If managers are being force to handle cases this must distract them from their management tasks.

"The Minister needs to take action to address the appalling problems we as a country have with child abuse. He's shown he's not interested in the kind of structural changes actually needed to address the issue. He just wants to cover up bad news.

"It is time for a collaborative and integrated approach to child welfare, along the lines of that being trialled by Auckland's Starship Hospital - without the support of Government, I might add. But a single community based agency, with experienced health, welfare, special education and police professionals working together should have a clear objective of reducing child abuse in that community," Dr Newman said.

Ends

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