Kids can be more in danger in family care - foster parent

A man who has been fostering kids for 40 years says they are sometimes in more danger being looked after by family than strangers.

Malcolm Yorston and his wife Brenda have fostered more than 100 kids over the past 40 years, and joined The AM Show on Thursday morning to talk about what it takes.

Yorston said foster care in New Zealand had a bad name, but statistics said that children are often worse off being fostered within their family than by strangers.

"It's not the out-of kin foster carers who are causing the issue; it's the in-kin foster carers when the children go back into a kin situation, it might not be with the parents but it's within kin."

Yorston said he is sometimes concerned when children get taken out of his care, and put back into their old family environments.

"Especially when kids have been taken out of their environment because of sexual or physical abuse, you try and do what you can.

"Sometimes we're able to keep in touch with the kids, other times the families don't want us keeping in touch with the kids and the door is shut."

He said he's cared for children who have been abused since before they were born, and have substance addictions.

"One of the biggest issues that New Zealand faces at the moment with the kids is substance abuse... whether that be P, whether that be alcoholics, these kids are actually born with a life sentence."

He said kids with substance abuse problems behave erratically and are hard to handle.

"You'll get a child that will just scream and scream and scream. When the child gets a bit older there'll be issues around their attitude, they'll push the boundaries wherever they can, they'll have no thought as to what consequences are."

He said it can be hard to see the children go, but fostering is not adopting.

"What you've got to remember is that you're there, you're helping these children, giving them stability and love and a safe environment when they need it."


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