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Biff CYFS – the problems

Biff CYFS – the problems

CYFS has been an unmitigated disaster for the children and families of New Zealand, United Future leader Peter Dunne and family affairs spokeswoman Judy Turner said today, in unveiling a detailed new structure to take its place.

“CYFS, as we know it, has to go. Its problems go to its very core and no amount of tinkering will fix it,” Mr Dunne said.

“This is not a case of more money, more reviews. – that’s all been tried and it has failed at a huge cost to our most vulnerable children,” Mrs Turner said.

Looming large among its failures is the fact that it’s been almost completely incapable of fulfilling its statutory obligation of preventing child abuse. “And it’s not going to start doing this properly tomorrow, next month or next year,” she said.

The problems with CYFS go beyond minor reforms, and include:

The scale of the demand - a 40% increase in notifications in the most recent December/January figures alone. Of the 4595 unallocated cases as at 31 January, 99% were at the lower criticality levels. This means CYFS is not doing preventative work. Not attended to properly, these cases often develop into critical cases. CYFS admits 50% of cases have to be reworked; that is, they haven’t been done properly. The quantity of work is impacting hugely on the quality. Bottlenecks at intake, at the national call centre. This often means prescribed times for handling a matter are over before the matter has been allocated to a case worker. Lack of inter-agency co-ordination. A failure noted in so many of the tragedies involving CYFS, most recently the killings of Wairarapa sisters Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson.

“We can address the increasing demand for CYFS’ services unless we focus on prevention. For too long, CYFS has been subject to the tyranny of the urgent.”

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