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Review of Child Youth and Family

Review of Child Youth and Family

The Minister for Social Development Anne Tolley has (September 24) released an expert panel's interim report on Child Youth and Family.

The New Zealand Association of Psychotherapists (NZAP) are also deeply concerned at the poor outcomes for vulnerable children who are placed in state care. Particularly disturbing is the knowledge that many of these children experience 7 or 8 placements before a permanent home is found for them. Also that they are assumed to be independent adults at 17 years.

"Most parents don't want to hurt their kids and don't know how not to" says Lynne Holdem, NZAP spokesperson on Child and Adolescent issues. “Generational patterns of neglect and abuse are the result of trauma and insecure attachment. Parents can learn how to reflect on their own experiences as children and their impact on behaviour. If they are provided with a map of what secure attachment and protective parenting look like, they can then choose new and loving ways of responding to their childrens’ needs. Parents can learn to tune into their infant's needs, provide comfort to them when they are distressed and watch over their play and exploration in a protective and kind way.” Says Holdem.

Short term behaviour modification and psycho-education programs are of limited value to families who have multi-generational patterns of neglect, abuse, mental health or addiction difficulties. They are not targeted to the specific needs of each family/whanau and set up unreal expectations of a quick fix. Hope and confidence that the family can make a change is thus eroded.

Foster families who take on children with disorganised attachment patterns and conduct disorders also need more support than they currently receive.

Early interventions in such families with attachment programmes, like Circle of Security, would save money when these children become adults. Secure attachment protects against educational under-achievement, criminality, mental health problems, suicide behaviours and substance abuse.

"Attachment focused psychotherapy is effective and would prove an worthwhile investment for Child Youth and Family." Says Holdem.


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