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Hamish Carter lends support

1 November 2004

Hamish Carter lends support as Child, Youth and Family launches its largest caregiver recruitment campaign

Olympic gold medal-winning triathlete Hamish Carter has lent his support to the work of caregivers (foster parents) as Child, Youth and Family launches its largest caregiver recruitment campaign today (1 November) during Foster Care Week.

In a videoed message of support played at the campaign’s launch event in Wellington, Hamish Carter gave recognition to the contribution caregivers make to the lives of children and young people in care saying: “Family is so important, everyone needs family and a place they can call home.

“Not enough is written or said about the work caregivers do in being a family to a child or young person in need – perhaps this is taken too much for granted. There are New Zealanders who have been caring for 10, 20, 30, even 40 years. The challenges they face should not be underestimated. Their contribution to children and the community is invaluable.” Child, Youth and Family’s campaign predominantly focuses on finding caregivers outside the family, although highlighting their work could lead to a greater number of kin carers coming forward.

Child, Youth and Family aims to recruit around 300 caregivers for its 29 sites around the country and is seeking emergency, respite, short-term and longer-term caregivers as well as those willing to run a Family Home or take on permanent guardianship and custody of a child or young person in care.

Children and young people come into care for two main reasons: either for care and protection reasons when they have been abused, neglected or when parents, for a number of reasons, can no longer safely care for their children; or for youth justice reasons. Currently Child, Youth and Family has a particular shortage of caregivers prepared to look after teenagers and those with challenging behaviours such as mental health or anger management problems.

The Department runs an induction and National Caregiver Training Programme with the

-more follows- New Zealand Family and Foster Care Federation which includes modules on ‘Managing Behaviour’, ‘Understanding Maltreatment’ and the ‘Older Child’. A Certificate in Family/Whanau Foster Care is under development based on these courses. Once finalised it will be a nationally recognised qualification and lead on to a more advanced Diploma. Craig Smith, Acting Chief Social Worker, Child, Youth and Family, said: “It’s really important that caregivers have an open attitude to the natural parents of the child, and to the extended family. Most people care for their children well - some struggle with parenting. There are few people in New Zealand who are deliberately hurting their children. If you imagine that the caregiver is part of a team to assist the parents to be better at parenting, then it’s really important that they make a connection with the birth parents. Very frequently the goal is reunification.”

Cindy Kiro, Children’s Commissioner, said: “I applaud the message of this campaign that you don’t need to be an exceptional individual or family to take on foster children, including those young people with behavioural problems. You don’t need to have an expensive house or lots of money to care for children and young people. Simply providing a secure and stable environment can make an enormous difference in the lives of these children and young people. Providing that secure environment may turn their lives around and onto a new path. “

-ends-

For further information please contact Hilda Tait, Senior Communications Advisor on (04) 918 9115 or 029 240 4098 or email hilda.tait001@cyf.govt.nz

Notes to Editors Currently the Department has 3,580 caregivers (both kin and non-kin) looking after 4,819 children and young people aged 0 – 16 years.

The new recruitment campaign encompasses advertisements, posters, leaflets and other materials with the tagline “Small Things Can Change Everything”. The concept hinges on some of the significant first time events in a child or young person’s life whilst in the care of foster parents such as having their photo taken, being taken to a rugby game and being taught to skim a stone. It shows the benefits to a child or young person of having positive experiences and adult role models.

The campaign also sets out to highlight that caregivers are part of a team in a planned continuum of care and work with social workers and the child’s natural parents in order to achieve one of four key goals for a child or young person in care. These are either: reunification with the child’s own parents; a permanent living arrangement with extended family; to live permanently with a non-kin caregiver or to leave care and live independently.

The launch event starts at 10 am at Turnbull House, Bowen Street, Wellington and will include caregivers speaking about their own experiences. This is part of their “Day of Firsts” to tie in with the theme of the recruitment drive. After the launch, the caregivers and the children in their care will head to Wellington Zoo for lunch, participate in feeding the chimpanzees and be able to climb into the red panda enclosure to meet these creatures.

ENDS

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