'Iconic' Stand Children's Services facilities face closure without more funding

A group which provides residential services for traumatised children says it will likely close two of its facilities due to a lack of funding.

Stand Children's Services facilities in Otaki and Roxburgh could shut their doors in a matter of months if $3 million dollars can't be found.

"We tuck these children into bed at night, we get them breakfast in the morning, when they fall over they come, we look after them, I can't even explain what that means," says teacher Raewyn Hewitt.

"Your stomach just drops... and I think for us the way we work, we work with these children, we build relationships with these children, we pour out our lives for these children."

The live-in facilities accommodate dozens of children at a time. Stand operates seven residential facilities across the country, but says its cash reserves have dried up.

There's been a funding shortfall from the Government since 2009.

"Last year we hit a point where we simple had to give our staff more money - they were actually struggling to feed their own families," says chief executive Fiona Inkpen.

The Government had been providing the service with $16 million a year - millions short of what it needs. Ms Inkpen says she's been to see Minister for Children Tracey Martin, who was understanding but couldn't help.

"She realises it's a unique service but she can't find the money."

Ms Martin says Stand is an iconic service and she was disappointed to learn of the situation it was in when she became minister. But she says funding decisions for Stand sit with Oranga Tamariki.

"It's immensely gutting," says Ms Inkpen. "We feel like we've fought really, really hard to build a specialist social service that meets a real need that no other service currently provides."

There is now a small window for the service to try and come up with funding before Stand's forced to close the two facilities in July.

That means 380 children a year will miss out on its trauma treatment programme and 63 staff will be let go.

"We've still got hope - we are ambassadors of hope, that's our job," says Ms Inkpen. "So we don't give up - we want families and children to know we're not going away."

Ms Inkpen says Stand is still committed to providing its other services to families in the community.


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