7 Apr 2016

CYF changes not fast enough, ex-foster child says

8:40 pm on 7 April 2016

A man who had more than 30 placements when he was a foster child says he's angry about how long it will take to enact proposed changes to child welfare.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley today announced sweeping changes to Child Youth and Family (CYF), including the creation of a new entity that will be a child's single point of contact.

A Cabinet paper has said full implementation of the reforms could take four to five years.

Daryl Brougham suffered 18 years of beatings, starvation and psychological abuse as a foster child, and told his story in Through the Eyes of a Foster Child, a book that was released last year. He also received compensation for the abuse.

Mr Brougham, who now has a social work degree and is also a former CYF employee, told Checkpoint with John Campbell some of the proposed changes needed to happen immediately.

He said the care of all foster children should be extended beyond the planned new end point of 18 years old straight away.

"The best would have been every child who is in state care has that support right up to 21, and if need be, 25. But she said 'no, it's going to 18, and some will go to 21'. And when I heard that 'some', I kept thinking, who is going to be the person to decide that 'some'."

The changes announced today are part of a final report following a major review of CYF.

Ms Tolley said earlier today that discussions with the Ministry of Social Development and CYF about the proposal were ongoing.

The government was already considering the age at which children and young people left the system, and that could be up to the age of 25, depending on their circumstances, she said.

In the meantime, the law would be changed later this year to raise the current age from 17 to 18.

She said the new entity announced today would be "child-centred" and would bring together services for children in state care.

It would also be the sole purchaser of medical and psychological services, and the hiring of social workers.

The minister said specific details for how the new entity would be funded would be included in next year's budget.