Government housing Child, Youth and Family kids in motels

Child Youth and Family (CYF) has been using motels when it has nowhere else to place children. 

Newshub has learned hotels and motels are being used to place children when there are no foster parents or caregivers to take them in - however no one knows how widespread the practice is. 

"In emergency situations or where a placement is needed but no one is immediately able to house a child or young person, Child, Youth and Family may place a child in temporary accommodation," the Ministry for Social Development said in an Official Information Act response. 

There's no real way of knowing if the numbers of children staying in motels are on the rise because the Ministry doesn't collect statistics.

Instead, the information is held on "hundreds" of individual files that they are refusing to collate as it would take too much resource to do so. 

In some cases it appears that CYF is leaving young people - a youth over the age of 16 -  in the motels without a minder.

It says adult minders are assigned to all children but only in "most cases" to young people too.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said motels are only ever used as a temporary measure. 

"Accommodation such as hotels and motels are only ever used as a placement option for young people in exceptional circumstances," she said. 

CYF general manager for operations Greg Versalko said in a a statement that such placements were always temporary. 

"Examples of such circumstances might be where a young person is being moved to a CYF residence in another part of the country and flights are not available until the following day, or when there is no suitable family or other option available at the time" he said. 

"They are typically only overnight, although it might be for longer in some circumstances."

Labour's spokeswoman for children, Jacinda Ardern, says motels are no place for vulnerable children. 

"These are vulnerable young people who are being taken into a sterile environment having probably just gone through a traumatic experience. In other circumstances they might be youth justice situations, either way a hotel is not an appropriate place for these young people to be."

Ms Ardern thinks the least the Ministry should be doing is collecting data. 

"One of the things we're completely in the dark over is how wide scale and for how long this issue has been going on," she said. 

"It makes it very hard for us to see if this is a systemic ongoing problem and what we need to do to remedy it, because the Ministry simply can't tell us."

Mr Versalko said the decision to place a child or young person in such accommodation would be made by the young person's social worker in consultation with their supervisor, and must be approved by a manager.

"In placing a young person or child in a motel the safety and wellbeing of the child or young person would be our paramount concern. We would also consider the interests of the motel and other guests." 

Newshub. 

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