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CYF Procedures Lead To Yet Another Tragedy

CYF Procedures Lead To Yet Another Tragedy

Thursday 27 Nov 2003
Dr Muriel Newman
Press Releases -- Social Welfare

The comments today of Eru Pokaia - whose three-year-old grandson Tamati was killed in CYF foster-care - are a disturbing reminder of the inadequate procedures in place at the Department of Child, Youth and Family, ACT New Zealand Social Welfare Spokesman Dr Muriel Newman said today.

"Mr Pokaia's claims - that CYF continually changed the requirements for Tamati's return to his parents - follow a disturbing trend where we see children taken from their homes, but no clear mechanism to have them returned," Dr Newman said.

"While part of CYF's role is to remove children from the family home where there are safety concerns, an equally large part of the job is to ensure they can return to the biological family, when appropriate. Leaving them in care for longer than necessary is not only unprofessional, but cruel.

"Also, where the extended family is clearly in a position to help - as Mr Pokaia claims he was - then they should be the first option. That Tamati Pokaia was placed in foster-care, with tragic consequences, is an issue that definitely needs to be investigated - but, given the recent critical reports about CYF systemic failures, this report should be done by an independent body.

"CYF clearly does not work hard enough to return children to their homes. In fact, CYF statistics show over-stressed and poorly managed social workers remove more and more children from their homes each year, instead of focussing on helping and supporting parents to overcome the difficulties they face so that children can be safely returned to their care.

"This whole area must be better addressed; CYF must have the responsibility of, not only removing children into safe care - preferably with family members - when a child is deemed to be at risk but of returning the children to their home in a timely manner if at all possible.

"Further, this tragic case highlights a grave inadequacy in CYF's choice, training and monitoring of foster-care parents. Children at risk, who are removed from their families, need loving stable homes to go to with caregivers who can be trusted. Anything less is incomprehensible," Dr Newman said.


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