28 Dec 2011

CYF pays out more than $1m in two years

4:01 pm on 28 December 2011

Child Youth and Family has paid out more than $1 million compensation over the past two years for failing those in its care.

The amount of compensation, and the number of claims, has increased significantly over that time.

In 2010, a total of 31 claims were made, costing $334,912.

That rose to 55 cases in 2011 involving payouts of just over $837,000.

The Ministry of Social Development says it has no legal responsibility to pay compensation, but feels there is a moral obligation to do so, where the Ministry or its former bodies have not acted to an acceptable level.

It also says that, over the past two years, nearly half the payouts have been historical matters relating to former state care.

Labour calls for bipartisan approach

Labour Party social development spokesperson Jacinda Adern says the payouts indicate systematic failures in the Ministry of Social Development.

Ms Adern says a bipartisan approach to reviewing the department's operation could prevent the system being changed each time there is a new government.

And she says an independent body should be set up to assess complaints.

Social Development Minister, Paula Bennett, has declined to comment.

Family First wants independent complaints process

A spokesoman for lobby group Family First, Bob McCoskrie, says the amount of compensation paid out shows that social workers aren't performing well enough.

He says an independent complaints process is needed.

"You get the accountability, you get public confidence, and social workers are defended because it means that an independent body has ratified what they've done."

Mr McCoskrie said more matters could be resolved out before they reach the compensation stage.