"Dump and run" is the damning description some youth specialists are using to describe the services of Child, Youth and Family (CYF).
A report from the Children's Commissioner says we don't know if children are any better off as a result of state intervention.
Critics and victims of abuse say more money and resources for the service would be a good start.
Some children in CYF care have been moved dozens of times, and one of those is a 17-year-old we can't name for legal reasons. He's been in 57 different homes.
CYF is the legal guardian of 5000 at-risk children at any one time, most of them under the age of 10. Children's Commissioner Russell Wills says there are systemic failures in the CYF service and he's doubtful whether children are actually better off in state care.
He's made 53 recommendations around making CYF more child-focused and improving skills and resources for caregivers and social workers.
"When we support caregivers better then we'll see those numbers change." Mr Wills says.
Daryl Brougham went through 79 placements in 18 years of foster care and has been compensated for the abuse he suffered. He's now a qualified social worker and says this report shows nothing's changed.
"For me it's frustrating that the caseloads are the answer, and yet no one's said ok let's lower the caseloads to give that social worker the room in order to provide the quality."
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says more money's not the answer.
"It's easy to say put more resources in. In this term of Government we've put an extra $90 million in, and it hasn't made much difference to the outcomes for the kids."
Labour MP Jacinda Ardern says Ms Tolley's response to resources and funding isn't helping.
"She doesn't believe it's a resource issue. Absolutely that is part of the problem."
Ms Tolley says she will take the Commissioner's recommendations into account. The Government had already tasked an expert review panel with a total revamp of the way CYF is run. It's expected to deliver a comprehensive plan by December.