Media Release 10 June 2014
Family First NZ is repeating its call for an official inquiry in to the policies, procedures and the resourcing of CYF following an admission by CYF that they’re not coping, and increasing media coverage about the lack of support for caregivers.
“If CYF was a family, it would have had state intervention by now. There is increasing evidence of massive systemic failure in the organisation,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“A review by the ministry of Social Development found that CYF is massively understaffed and that social workers do not have manageable caseloads and workloads. One of the key comments was ‘….we are working with people and children and all of our decisions affect their lives forever. It would be good to be able to have the time and capacity to think, analyse and reflect rather than acting in the moment…’,”
“CYF perform a necessary function but the lack of accountability to their process and procedures and their overwhelming workload should concern all families. There is no external and independent accountability. We need CYF to get it right, and we need to know that they’re getting it right. That evidence is not there,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Earlier this month, a report was released by the NZ Council for Educational Research which found that a survey of Principals were not positive about CYF support. 70% said CYF workers were ‘not useful’ or of ‘mixed use’. Only 4% said they were ‘very useful’.
A report last year commissioned by Social Development Minister Paula Bennett supported Family First’s call for an independent CYF Complaints Authority.
There have also been two recent cases of concern – the manager of a Whangarei Child Youth & Family home today found guilty on sex charges, while yesterday a jury’s unanimous acquittal of a couple on all 14 charges of assault and ill-treatment of three boys between 2004 and 2010 brought by CYF against a caregiver couple.
“In the first case, these allegations of abuse occurred over a two year period (2011 – 2013) and disturbingly in a CYF-owned family home, where caregivers are directly sought and employed by CYF. There is obviously some huge flaws in the vetting system of caregivers, and in the level and frequency of care and communication between social workers and children in care. Parents of some of the victims are claiming to have gone to the police directly after hearing their children’s claims of abuse, and that CYF had been aware of the abuse for some time, yet failed to act swiftly and notify the families of the children. One would also question the idea of having multiple children, both males and females of varying ages in one place.”
“In the second case, it highlights that caregiving is a thankless task and CYF are making it even more thankless. Caregivers are being referred very difficult and demanding children yet are being rendered completely powerless, lacking support, and at risk themselves when dealing with unacceptable and defiant behaviour. This concern has been expressed to Family First by many other caregivers.”
“We’re are also questioning why the couple has been completely acquitted in court yet CYF claim they have committed abuse. Does CYF operate under a different law which excludes reality, common sense and the rule of law?”
“An official Inquiry will be in the best interests of the social workers, will result in public confidence and accountability for actions and decisions by CYF workers, establish appropriate workloads for social workers, and will protect families from abuse, and from abuse by the state,” says Mr McCoskrie.