Tolley 'ashamed' of 'horrific' stats in CYF report

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley (Simon Wong/3 News)
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley (Simon Wong/3 News)

A scathing report into Child, Youth and Family (CYF) describes an agency offering poor value for money, where children in care are re-victimised and have dramatically worse outcomes than other kids.

Authored by a panel, including the Government's fix-it queen Paula Rebstock, it recommends an investment lead approach that focuses on long-term results.

Tupua Urlich knows where he's headed now, but after more than half his life in the care of CYF, he could easily have been a walking statistic.

"I was in the darkest place I have ever been.

"I felt like a burden, I felt like every time I called a social worker it was just a pain. Every person's house I turned up to, I was out of place," Mr Urlich recalls.

The weighty report by an expert panel lays out a litany of shortcomings within CYF, describing an agency focused on immediate risk and budgets; not end goals for kids.

It's been starkly illustrated by a snap shot of 21-year-olds who came through care.

Almost 90 percent were on a benefit, more than 26 percent were on a benefit with a child, almost 80 percent do not have NCEA level two, at least 30 percent had youth justice referrals by the age of 18, and 20 percent had been locked up. 

"I think I used the word horrific," Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says of the statistics. "They make me ashamed."

Of the children notified to CYF last year, 64 percent had been there before.

In 2010 almost a quarter of children leaving care to return to their biological parents were abused within 18 months.

Ten percent of those placed with other relatives or whanau got the same treatment, while abuse rates were just 1 percent for children placed outside their families.

"There were full-on kicks to the head, kicks up the arse, pulling on ears, and even dragged across the ground," Mr Urlich recalls of the abuse he suffered.

Ms Tolley describes the report as the case for radical change – the actual changes though are still being worked on.

There'll be an immediate push to recruit more caregivers, with the minister hoping for the empathy recently shown for refugees.

"We might not get them a Syrian but we have got kids who need them here in New Zealand," says Ms Tolley.

Work is underway on a new child advocacy service, but that is to be funded by the philanthropic interests; charity.

Mr Urlich thinks the Government should stump up the funds.

"We are children of the state, it is their responsibility to provide us with good parents," says Mr Urlich.

But he's all for radical change, if it saves one child from his experience.

"Every child needs those things; stability, love, care, and if their parents can't do it I think New Zealand, we can do it."

A new business model for CYF is expected to be with the Minister by December.

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