1 April 2015
Long Overdue Review of CYF Welcomed
Family First NZ is welcoming the long overdue independent review of Child Youth and Family which it has been asking for over many years.
“If CYF was a family, it would have had state intervention before now. There is increasing evidence of systemic failure in the organisation,” says Bob McCoskrie, National Director of Family First NZ.
“A review by the ministry of Social Development found that CYF is massively understaffed and that social workers do not have manageable caseloads and workloads. One of the key comments was ‘....we are working with people and children and all of our decisions affect their lives forever. It would be good to be able to have the time and capacity to think, analyse and reflect rather than acting in the moment...’.”
"CYF perform a necessary function but the lack of accountability to their process and procedures and their overwhelming workload should concern all families. There is no external and independent accountability. We need CYF to get it right, and we need to know that they’re getting it right. That evidence is not there,” says Mr McCoskrie.
Family First NZ also called for an official inquiry in to the policies, procedures and the resourcing of CYF following the release of the Glenn Inquiry “People’s Report”.
The Glenn Report highlighted shortfalls including:
• the general view that CYF staff generally lacked consistency, professionalism, and some were judgmental, punitive and disrespectful to families
• concerns about the quality of CYF staff’s documentation, and substandard reporting
• the quality of CYF’s liaison and coordination with other organisations and services
• claims that staff were “bullies” and the tendency for CYF to take “simplistic” approaches
• training was inadequate education and preparation to enable them to work effectively with families who are living with child abuse and domestic violence
• staff were seen to act in ways that compromised the safety of children in either their care or the care of other people they used. Concerns were raised about the poor assessment of prospective foster parents
In 2014, a report was released by the NZ Council for Educational Research which found that a survey of Principals were not positive about CYF support. 70% said CYF workers were ‘not useful’ or of ‘mixed use’. Only 4% said they were ‘very useful’.
A report in 2013 commissioned by then-Social Development Minister Paula Bennett supported Family First’s call for an independent CYF Complaints Authority.
“An official Inquiry will be in the best interests of the social workers, will result in public confidence and accountability for actions and decisions by CYF workers, establish appropriate workloads for social workers, and will protect families from abuse, and from abuse by the state,” says Mr McCoskrie.