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Not again! Another CYFS disaster

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Today's news that the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services did not run a full police check on a gang member who with his teenage foster placement raped a woman is yet another example of an organisation in crisis, says Labour's social welfare spokesperson Steve Maharey.

"CYFS has placed foster children in the care of gang members before. This one is now eligible for preventive detention. A placement like that is so far beyond the limits of acceptability that it shows CYFS is worse than desperate. It is obviously no longer capable of functioning properly.

"CYFS' action in this case is all the more staggering when it admits it knew the foster father is a gang member with criminal convictions. Its failure to run a full police check on a person like that is unbelievable.

"The need for renewed Government commitment to CYFS is urgent."

Today's case follows:
· news earlier this week of a 10-year-old boy being deliberately set on fire by a foster parent;
· news a month ago that a 14-year-old Christchurch girl was "wasted and out of it" while in CYFS care, with free access to drugs, alcohol and tobacco;
· the case of James Whakaruru, who died after being left with a man who beat him;
· a 16-year-old offender placed with Black Power affiliates with previous convictions;
· two young brothers placed with extended family in Coromandel that had gang connections and extensive criminal convictions.

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"Lack of Government support has allowed the system to decay to this point, where CYFS is desperately short of suitable placements for children needing care.

"Labour will make CYFS work again. We are committed to ensuring the number of residential places available meets demand. We will begin a professional development programme for foster parents, develop best practice guidelines for them, give them more support from social workers and review the assistance available for education costs. We will also have a nationwide strategy designed to strengthen family relationships through education and research on family issues."

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