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Urgent Need for CYF Complaints Authority

MEDIA RELEASE

10 July 2008

Close Up Case Highlights Urgent Need for CYF Complaints Authority

But Not the Model Proposed by MSD

The case of a Cambridge family being separated because of the threats of CYF, and featured on tonight’s programme of TVNZ’s Close Up, is further evidence that NZ urgently needs an independent CYF Complaints Authority.

“Parents who feel they have been unfairly treated by the CYF and have had their families torn apart have had no avenue for appeal – no independent body,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First. “This is grossly unfair when families are being ripped apart, often just based on the subjective judgment of a social worker.”

The Minister responsible for CYF acknowledged that there is no recording of the number of complaints made to CYF, and no central database that captures all complaints made to CYF staff. Parents have also been totally unsatisfied with the lack of response from the Commissioner for Children.

“An independent CYF Complaints Authority would also be in the best interests of the social workers,”says Mr McCoskrie, “as it will provide an independent body to ensure that appropriate policy and procedures have been followed. This will result in public confidence and accountability for actions and decisions by CYF workers.”

Mr McCoskrie warns that the success of any Complaints Authority will depend on its independence – it can not be social workers investigating other social workers.

“The proposed model of a Chief Executive Advisory Panel being adopted by the Ministry of Social Development has the inherent flaw of not being independent, and the Chief Executive still has the final decision as to the success of the complaint. This is unacceptable.”

“When dealing with the breakdown and dysfunction of any family, for the sake of the children and the family we have to get it right as often as we possibly can. Accountability and transparency will increase the likelihood of this,” says Mr McCoskrie.

ENDS

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