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Review highlights need for CYF complaint authority

Review highlights need for CYF complaints authority

A CYF review into the death of seven-month old Kathleen Harris has tragically confirmed the urgent need for CYF to be accountable to an independent complaints process, according to United Future deputy leader Judy Turner.

A report on the review criticises CYF action in dealing with complaints about bruises and the general welfare of baby Kathleen. CYF staff allegedly paid less attention to her bruises than to her mother's mental health.

"This case is a tragic example of when things go wrong for CYF. I do not want to criticise the social workers, but merely acknowledge that mistakes and bad judgment calls are an inevitable reality in this area of work," says Mrs Turner.

"In 2003 Ron Burrows complained that his call to CYF raising concerns about his children's safety had not been followed up. This too ended with a tragic result.

"We have a desperate need for an independent body to be established, to allow a complaints process to occur and provide a place that people can turn when they feel concerned or wronged by CYF.

"Complaints could include anything from disputing a decision made by social workers, to claiming that a breach of procedure has occurred, to challenging inaction to a CYF notification ? as could have occurred in Ron Burrows case.

"Minister Ruth Dyson needs to come out and commit to the establishment of such a CYF complaints authority. It is not about attacking her department, anymore than the police equivalent is about attacking police.

"But such an authority will increase accountability and public confidence in the department, and provide an avenue where those concerned about their children can go to, if they believe that nothing is being done for them," says Mrs Turner.


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