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CYF foster parents discarded over $40 per week

Media Release – 7 July 2005

Urgent - Available for immediate use

Child, Youth and Family foster parents discarded for a mere $40 per week

Christchurch Child, Youth and Family foster parents, Bruce Stuart-Menteath and Denise Howard, are engaged in a struggle with CYF management who, for the sake of $40 per week petrol costs, are prepared to risk the stability and well-being of an at risk 6 year old boy.

For the past 15 months, Stuart-Menteath/Howard have been CYF foster parents to the boy who was removed from his parent's “care” for reasons of extreme neglect and abuse. During his stay with them the boy has blossomed, physically, mentally and emotionally. In like manner he has also benefited hugely from the care and nurturing he gets from staff at his school, which initially raised the alarm about his predicament, and that of his younger sister and older brother. His school environment - teachers, schoolmates/friends and neighbours - and his placement with Stuart-Menteath/Howard, have been the only measure of stability the boy has ever known. In recognition of the importance of the school as a stable influence CYF have been paying Stuart-Menteath/Howard $40 per week (over and above the $130 weekly boarding allowance) to cover their petrol costs to get him to school and back.

However, last year the boy’s older brother, who has even greater behavioural problems as a result of his upbringing, was removed (without warning) from the same school in order to save the Department money on his transport to and from school. Payment of the petrol costs to Stuart-Menteath/Howard has always been problematic and they were recently told that it would cease at the end of this school term and that as a consequence the boy would have to change to a school closer to their home.

In disgust at such petty short sighted management Stuart-Menteath/Howard stated to CYF that as a consequence, and in the knowledge that such management was likely to result in a reversal of the boy’s good progress, they could not in good conscience continue to work with the Department while it conducted such a management regime that was so clearly against the best interests of the child. But rather than consider the importance of Stuart-Menteath/Howard as valued foster parents and take another look at the funding of the petrol costs, the Department has merely informed them that the boy is to be removed from their care.

Stuart-Menteath and Howard believe that their previous outspokenness as strong advocates for the boy has resulted in CYF staff developing a hardened attitude towards them. Some of the other issues they have raised include: the Department’s failure to act on its legal obligations to provide the boy with access to his younger sister; the boy’s disclosure of sexual abuse from a member of his family; the unrealistic haste with which it is planned to return the boy to the care of his father and the dismissive attitude and/or rudeness with which some CYF staff have treated them.

“I get the distinct feeling that some CYF staff think that for $130 for 24/7 care, foster parents are supposed to be so grateful that they should not point out shortcomings in the Department’s management and performance, nor advocate for the best they can get for the children in their care.” Bruce Stuart-Menteath.

Footnote - CYF have stated that they will be picking the boy up on Monday 11 July.


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