Sunday News 26 April 2009
Thousands of Kiwi kids continue to be taken from their families each year and put into Child, Youth and Family (CYF) care. Figures released to Sunday News under the Official Information Act show as of December 2008, 4643 children and teens were in the care of the government agency. Of those, 584 were aged under two, 713 from two to four, 1276 five to nine, 1134 aged 10-13, 903 were from 14-16 and 33 aged 17-19. Of the youngsters taken by CYF, 66 were at-risk babies less then one month old, and 15 were removed from their parents on the day they were born. The number of custody orders involving newborns has more than doubled in the past five years.
…The total number of children in CYF care has decreased over the past few years. Up to June 30, 2008, 4831 children were in CYF care 472 less than the previous year and 558 less than in the 2005/2006 financial year. CYF said they couldn’t tell Sunday News how many children and youths it had returned to parents because their removal had been unjustified. Nor could they say how many times they’d apologised to parents for the behaviour of their staff or how many complaints they had received. Hughes said that information was “held on individual files” and would take a considerable amount of time to collate. But he said CYF was aware there is “public interest” in that information and had made “improvements” that will allow the department to “supply this information in the future”. CYF had launched a new complaints process which “establishes a consistent and robust nationwide process for managing complaints”, he said.