10 Jun 2014

CYF failing children - foster mother

2:13 pm on 10 June 2014

Child, Youth and Family's (CYF) fostering system is failing the children it is meant to be protecting, a foster mother has told Nine to Noon.

Karen Scott said she and her husband took in a five-year-old boy who had been removed from his father's care, and told Nine to Noon why after two years she felt she had no choice but to ask CYF to take him back.

She and her husband have a blended family of six children.

After going through the required background checks and a three day training course, the family were finally asked to care for a 5-year-old boy - who Ms Scott has called James (not his real name).

James seemed to thrive in the family environment, and could be charming and affectionate, she said.

But Ms Scott said he also exhibited some worrying behaviours, such as cutting up his siblings toys, and hurting animals on the family's lifestyle block.

Karen Scott said she tried many times to get counselling for James through Child, Youth and Family as she felt there were deep-seated issues that needed to be dealt with, but this never happened.

And after two years - when the extent of his behaviour towards animals became clear, Karen and her husband made the decision to ask for him to be moved to another family.

Ms Scott has written a book about her time with James and her concerns about Child, Youth and Family - which she hoped would help other foster families and force vital changes within the agency.

She said the CYF training for foster parents was totally inadequate, given the vulnerable state foster children are in, and the fact that many are damaged. And she said there was no support when parents struggled to help children with problems.

Child, Youth and Family said it was concerned the book will compromise the child's privacy and that of his family.

Its Deputy Chief Executive Bernadine Mackenzie said Ms Scott may be well-intentioned, but was alarmed that any caregiver would expose a child to potential hurt in this way

Ms McKenzie said CYF's initial advice was that it did not have legal grounds in terms of privacy to prevent publication of Ms Scott's book.