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CYF lets truants fall through the cracks

CYF lets truants fall through the cracks

National Party Welfare spokeswoman Katherine Rich says CYF is letting too many of our most vulnerable children fall through the cracks by failing to keep proper tabs on school enrolment.

"Child Youth and Family now claims it has 'rejigged' its computer system to remedy the problem and for the sake of our children we hope the Department has indeed upped its game," says Mrs Rich.

She's commenting on issues arising from evidence to the social services select committee looking at the lives of those convicted of killing Auckland pizza delivery man Michael Choy.

"CYF, as an agent of the Crown, has a duty to make sure all the children in its care are in proper education. The Labour Government's softly softly approach to school non-enrolment and truancy can't continue," says Mrs Rich.

The MP's concluded in their report that:

* Sixty per cent of young criminals did not get to the third form.

* Between a quarter and a third of all offences by young people were committed between 9am and 4pm.

* Despite 30 to 40 per cent of young offenders having a history with CYF, the Department had no system to record whether children in its custody were enrolled or were attending school.

* Only 118 out of 4000-plus truancy cases last year were referred to CYF.

"The committee was told that some children were behaving so badly they had been kicked out of schools, but their behaviour wasn't bad enough to come to CYF's attention," Mrs Rich says.

"That's not good enough. The threshold for intervention is obviously set too high.

"The Government claims to be addressing the problem with new funding for truancy that amounts to a meagre $2 million a year, but the figures show there's a much bigger problem than Labour's prepared to admit.

"It's ironic that at a time when the Government is talking tough on truancy, the agency charged with protecting our kids admits it doesn't know whether all the children in its care are going to school," says Mrs Rich.

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