25 Dec 2010

Bennett orders abuse case report but not CYF probe

9:30 am on 25 December 2010

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett does not intend to review the operations of Child, Youth and Family over a child-abuse case authorities have described as horrific.

The parents of a nine-year-old Auckland girl are facing 36 charges of abuse and injury.

Child, Youth and Family gave the child back to her parents last year at the same time the abuse is alleged to have begun.

It is preparing a report for Ms Bennett on how the abuse was missed, but child advocate Christine Rankin says the agency itself needs to be reviewed.

Ms Rankin says it is the only agency where children can expect to be protected and it fails time and again.

Ms Bennett has received an interim report on the case but will not comment until she has been given a full report.

Child, Youth and Family has been involved with the family on and off since 2001, when it took the girl into custody. At the beginning of last year she was returned to her parents.

Agencies may not have failed - commissioner

Children's Commissioner John Angus is considering ordering a wide-ranging report on the case.

Dr Angus says he understands the many agencies involved focused mainly on the parents managing the girl's behaviour, rather than on her safety.

However, he says this may not mean the agencies failed, and may show the family was extremely good at hiding what was going on.

Dr Angus says he is satisfied the safety of children is given the highest priority by Child, Youth and Family.

Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse says she wants more social workers specifically targeting schools to uncover domestic violence.

She says teachers are experienced eyes and ears and can see straight away when families are in trouble.