‘If CYF was a family, it would have had state intervention by now’

child abuse CYF‘Dump and run’ culture at CYF
NZ Herald 27 August 2015
Conservative lobby group Family First responded to the report with a renewed call for an independent watchdog to monitor the policies, procedures and the resourcing of CYF.

“If CYF was a family, it would have had state intervention by now,” Family First national director Bob McCoskrie said.

“Despite the important work it does and some excellent social workers, there is increasing evidence of massive systemic failure in the organisation as a whole.”

Mr McCoskrie said CYF performed a necessary function but the lack of accountability to its process and procedures, and its 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.”

Unicef NZ national advocacy manager Deborah Morris-Travers welcomed the report and said it pointed to a range of systemic issues.

“It goes without saying that a child taken into state care should never be worse off as a result of that care.

But ensuring the long-term wellbeing of children who may have been traumatised by abuse and neglect, or who have committed an offence, requires skilled, coordinated input by social workers, teachers, health professionals and others.

“The State of Care report suggests the state, as a ‘corporate parent’, is currently failing to provide this.”

Ms Morris-Travers said it was positive to see that CYF had strong intake and initial assessment processes designed to keep children safe.

“This is important, but good practice cannot stop at the front end of the system. Running through this report is a sense that the system, and some of the staff working within it, are not child-centred.”

Ms Morris-Travers said that, in addition to the report’s 53 recommendations, the Government needed to invest more in the Children’s Commissioner to strengthen its monitoring of CYF.

“These issues are too important to be left to chance.”