Stuff.co.nz 3 Oct 2012
The suspected suicide of a 12-year-old girl in state care may have been prevented if Child, Youth and Family (CYF) had properly informed caregivers of her history and distressed mental state, a coroner has heard.
The girl, Krystal, whose last name is permanently suppressed, was found dead by her 7-year-old sister at her Auckland foster home in 2008.
The Ministry of Social Development said in a coroner’s hearing in Auckland today that its care plans for Krystal fell well below standard, because it had failed to disclose to her new foster family full details about allegations of sexual abuse and her suicide risk.
It also admitted that social workers had incorrectly interpreted a suicidal screening test completed by Krystal leading to a lack of support or counselling and a “tragic” outcome.
“What we missed out here were the needs of Krystal,” ministry representative Nova Salomen said.
“We were focussed on systems… instead we need to be seeing, knowing and valuing children.”
Krystal was one of eight children from a Northland family of 12 taken into care when her parents were arrested on drugs charges in 2006.
All eight children were initially placed with family foster carers but were removed after Krystal alleged she had been sexually abused by a person there. The charges were later dismissed after her death.
Krystal and her sister had been with the new caregiver, from Barnados, for just three weeks when she died.
Barnados manager of residential services Paul Smith, who provided the plan to the caregiver on behalf of CYF, agreed it did not have enough information