Ruth is the human interest reporter and a photographer for the Bay of Plenty Times.

CYF reform can help kids: Agencies

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Tauranga's Women Refuge manager Angela Warren-Clark says the problem of violent partners will remain. Photo / George Novak
Tauranga's Women Refuge manager Angela Warren-Clark says the problem of violent partners will remain. Photo / George Novak

Tauranga social agencies are optimistic an overhaul of Child Youth and Family services will benefit the Bay's most vulnerable children.

Social development minister Anne Tolley last week announced the system needed to be transformed if young people were to get the protection and life opportunities they deserved.

"A new system will be in place by the end of March 2017 which will have high aspirations for all children and address their short and long-term wellbeing and support their transition into adulthood.

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"It will focus on five core services - prevention, intensive intervention, care support services, transition support and a youth justice service aimed at preventing offending and reoffending."

Te Tuinga Whanau Support Services Trust social services director Tommy Wilson said he was encouraged by the announcement after a recent meeting with Mrs Tolley.

"We are right at the window of where these people first present and if we can intervene here, earlier, with the appropriate resources then it is going to make changes happen and that has got to be good," he said. "At the moment it's not working."

Homes of Hope director Hilary Price said better support services for carers was crucial for an organisation like hers.

"We take providing support for those on the front line, providing care for the children really seriously. The children have specialised needs and it's not as simple as putting a roof over a child's head.

"These children are significantly traumatised and have challenges so the caregivers need significant training and support which hasn't been consistent or available for some instances."

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Tauranga Women's Refuge manager Angela Warren-Clark said it was good Child Youth and Family services was re-evaluating its systems but the organisation still needed to address the behaviour of the abusive partner.

Mrs Warren-Clark said comprehensive intervention was needed.

"Nothing will change except children will be removed from mothers who cannot prevent an abusive partner.

"Our mums are in these awful situations with violent partners and they do do everything possible to protect their babies and themselves," she said.

The perpetrators were still getting off and there was no accountability, she said.

"Without Child Youth and Family services actively intervening in the behaviours and beliefs of the perpetrators we are going to have a flood-gate situation".

Changes may include:

* Contracting out most or all state care of children to iwi and other non-government agencies such as Barnardos and British-owned Key Assets.

* Placing children in permanent placements as soon as possible after deciding that they can't go back to their families.

* A new non-government agency to advocate for, and give a voice to, children in care.

* Schools, health agencies, police and other public agencies will have to give priority to supporting children in care.

* More training and funding for foster parents and agencies to support children in care, justified by reduced long-term crime and welfare costs.

* Extending care and support beyond the current cut-off at age 17.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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