Urgent Need for CYF Complaint Authority Following Study

Family First says that the release of a book on child homicide in NZ “Lives Cut Short” by two top government social workers confirms their urgent call for a CYF Complaints Authority.

The book claims that social workers are less willing to trust the families of children referred to them and are operating under a ‘culture of blame’.

“Parents who feel they have been unfairly treated by the Child, Youth and Family and have had their families torn apart have had no avenue for appeal – no independent body,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First. “This is grossly unfair when families are being ripped apart, often just based on the subjective judgment of a social worker.”

The Minister for CYF acknowledged during Question Time in Parliament last year that there is no recording of the number of complaints made to CYF, and no central database that captures all complaints made to Child, Youth and Family staff.

Parents have also been totally unsatisfied with the lack of response and support from the Commissioner for Children.

“This Authority will also be in the best interests of the social workers,” says Mr McCoskrie, “as it will provide an independent body to ensure that appropriate policy and procedures have been followed. This will result in public confidence and accountability for actions and decisions by CYF.”

Mr McCoskrie warns that the success of any Complaints Authority will depend on its independence – it can not be social workers investigating other social workers.

“There is a Health and Disability Commissioner, a Police Complaints Authority, even a Motor Vehicle Disputes Tribunal,” says Mr McCoskrie. “We desperately need an independent body to hear complaints about the highly sensitive nature of intervening in families.”

“When dealing with the breakdown and dysfunction of any family, for the sake of the children and the family we have to get it right as often as we possibly can. Accountability and transparency will increase the likelihood of this,” says Mr McCoskrie.

ENDS