3 Jan 2012

Principals concerned at CYF placement policy

8:40 pm on 3 January 2012

Secondary school principals say they are very worried about the policy of Child, Youth and Family of placing abused children with extended family.

The president of the Secondary School Principals Association, Patrick Walsh, says he appreciates the desire to place children with people they know and who are of their own culture, but safety comes first.

A report released in December last year arising from a ministerial inquiry into the case of a nine-year-old Auckland girl repeatedly abused by her parents has recommended urgent research into kinship care.

Mr Walsh says principals and teachers often know the extended family the best, but Child, Youth and Family does not seem to attach sufficient weight to their misgivings.

Child, Youth and Family's chief social worker says it would help if more principals and teachers attended family group conferences called to discuss the future care and protection of a child.

Paul Nixon says 41% of children in care are with extended family.

CYF takes too long to respond to critical situations

Secondary school principals also say that Child Youth and Family is still taking too long to respond to critical situations where child abuse is suspected.

They say the service has recently improved the communication channels between schools and the service over teachers' concerns about possible abuse.

But Mr Walsh says the agency still takes too long to take action over those concerns.

He says in what the association regards as a crisis situation which requires immediate investigation and intervention, it's had reports of delays of up to two months before Child Youth and Family takes action.

Child Youth and Family has appointed area managers to help resolve situations where schools don't believe social workers are responding adequately and Mr Walsh says that system is working well.