CYF admits failing 12-year-old girl

Otago Daily Times 10 May 2013
Child, Youth and Family have admitted failing a 12-year-old girl who took her own life while in foster care after she claimed to have been sexually abused by a caregiver.

Krystal, whose surname is permanently suppressed, was found dead in her bedroom by her younger sister at their Auckland foster home on September 13, 2008.

She was one of eight children from a Northland family placed in Child, Youth and Family (CYF) custody in 2006 after their parents were arrested on drugs charges.

The kids went into foster care for two years before Krystal alleged on August 1, 2008 that she had been sexually abused by one of her caregivers and they were moved out.

Krystal killed herself after being sent to her room for fighting and being told she would not be allowed to stay if her behaviour continued, a coroner’s finding released today says.

It slams the social welfare system for a series of failings by social workers after Krystal made the sex abuse claims.

Coroner Morag McDowell said Krystal’s new caregiver, who had been looking after her for only three weeks, was not properly informed of her fragile mental state.

The troubled girl was not given the counselling or psychological support required, the report says.

Coroner McDowell outlined a number of “missed opportunities” to manage the girl’s fragile mental state.

She expressed particular concern over the care plan given to her new caregiver, which was out of date and lacked detail about her individual needs and personal history.