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Burnt boy a symptom of CYFS crisis

Labour
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News of a 10-year-old boy being deliberately set on fire by a foster parent highlights again the need for a renewed Government commitment to the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services, says Labour social welfare spokesperson Steve Maharey.

"Clearly CYFS is desperately short of suitable placements for children needing care. Lack of Government support has allowed the system to decay to crisis point.

"The tragedy of this boy's treatment follows the news a month ago that a 14-year-old Christchurch girl was "wasted and out of it" while in CYFS care, with free access to drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

"We've also seen children put in the care of gang members and many New Zealanders will still remember the terrible case of James Whakaruru, who died after being left with a man who beat him. The steady stream of stories about problems with CYFS care is deeply disturbing, because when CYFS fails, children and families pay the price.

"Labour is proud of introducing the CYPF Act and dismayed at the way National has let the system decay. That's why our social security policy sets out how we'll make it work again.

"Our commitments include ensuring the number of residential places available for children through CYFS meets demand. We will institute a professional development programme for foster parents, develop best practice guidelines for them and put national standards for foster care on the Qualifications Framework. Foster parents will get steady support from social workers and the assistance available to them for education costs will be reviewed.

"Labour will also have a nationwide strategy designed to strengthen and support family relationships through education and research on family issues. We want to help prevent family breakdowns, not just repair them."

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