Welfare agency Child, Youth and Family admits mistakes were made in its management of a couple found guilty of the serious neglect of their children.
The 23-year-old woman and 25-year-old man, whose names are permanently suppressed to protect the four children, were sentenced in the District Court in Wellington on Monday.
When police went to the Lower Hutt home in January this year they found the couple intoxicated and their children, then aged four, three, two and seven months, in a distressed state and in need of medical attention.
In sentencing, Judge Susan Thomas said the children had been let down significantly by their parents, who admitted neglecting them.
The judge gave the pair sentences of community detention and ordered them to undergo alcohol and drug counselling. The children are still removed from their custody.
Chid, Youth and Family's general manager of operations Paula Attrill says the case highlights the need for better coordination of services for children.
Ms Attrill says that at times social workers were overly optimistic about the parents' progress and compliance with plans to address the children's care.
She says the focus was on getting the parents to make changes and at times the needs of the children did not receive the level of response that, in hindsight, should have occurred.