Kids lose if child abuse team goes, say agencies

NZ Herald Jul 01, 2009

Child advocates say children’s lives will be at risk because of a Government decision to close down a specialist team promoting public awareness of what to do about child abuse. Child, Youth and Family Services (CYFS) said yesterday that the team of 18 community social workers would be dismantled as part of cuts axing up to 200 jobs in the wider Ministry of Social Development. The staff work with schools, preschools, health services and other agencies dealing with children, CYFS head Ray Smith said the team’s public education role would move to “every one of our 3000 staff”. The agency’s call centre would check frequently with important services partners, such as schools, to ensure they were receiving all the support they need”.

But Liz Kinley of the national child abuse prevention network Jigsaw and a former CYFS social worker, said other CYFS staff struggled with urgent caseloads and would not have time for public education.

Mr Doolan, now an academic at Canterbury University, said the teams had gradually dwindled to the present staff of 18 and he supported the decision to hand the work back to frontline social workers. “Now that the protocols have had 10 or 15 years to bed in, we’re no longer talking about something that’s new, we’re talking about the maintenance of those protocols,” he said. “I think every social worker has that responsibility and every social worker should be talking with their communities.”