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Report confirms CYF is in crisis

Hon Katherine Rich MP National Party Welfare Spokeswoman

23 October 2003

Report confirms CYF is in crisis

"Why should the New Zealand public trust this Government to make urgently needed repairs to CYF after four years of inaction" asks National Party Welfare spokeswoman Katherine Rich.

"The issues raised in today's baseline review are not new. They are exactly the same as the problems raised by Judge Mick Brown in 2000. Labour has only implemented a dozen or so of his 55 recommendations.

"While the children's names may have changed - the issues are the same.

"Staff recruitment, retention and increasing demand against a back-drop of under funding, have all been identified as problem areas. A large slice of the money announced today will be poured into catch-up work.

"And it's hard to see how one or two new social workers in each office will solve the systematic failures at Child Youth and Family.

"Given Labour's reaction to the review, it's now clear the Government finally agrees with the Opposition's belief that CYF has been in crisis for some time.

"That's backed up by talk of stability issues and a 'large variability in the quality of service delivery' as well as even more damning criticisms of the Government department.

"There's a shocking 'lack of clarity' and we now know that CYF is suffering from 'critical information gaps' alongside a 'lack of basic reliable data ... such as numbers of children and young people in the system'.

"It's one thing to not know how many children in CYF's care aren't going to school, as exposed earlier this week, but it's another thing completely to not know how many children you're supposed to be looking after.

"It's now clear chief social worker Shannon Pakura shouldn't have had any 'spare time' to write job descriptions in Tariana Turia's office.

"It's also hard not to conclude that the release of this report is cynically timed to head off more trouble on the horizon.

"CYF has yet to conclude its investigation into the handling of the Coral Burrows case and the long overdue report on Saliel Aplin and Olympia Jetson is expected next month.

"On behalf of New Zealand's most vulnerable children it's important Labour gets it right - too many lives have been lost in the three years since Judge Mick Brown raised the alarm," says Mrs Rich.


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