Labour MPs are questioning how Child Youth and Family decide where resources go in Northland when key information is not collated at a regional level.

The comments from Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis and Labour's children's spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern come after the Northern Advocate waited two months for an official information request from CYF which excluded key statistics requested such as the number of children who absconded from CYF care in Northland and the highest number of placements for an individual in Northland.

Initially, the response also excluded the number of Maori children and youth in Northland CYF care but after questions were sent to Minister of Social Development Anne Tolley, the statistics were received four months after the original request.

In the Official Information Act response the Advocate was told the reason those statistics could not be revealed was because it would require staff to review "thousands of files".

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Mr Davis said it was "essential" statistics be recorded at a regional level so resources could be put in the right place.

"There's no reason they shouldn't have that," he said. "If you have an abnormal number of kids in Kaitaia who are absconding from CYF care - how are you meant to know what resourcing to put there if you don't have those statistics available?"

Mr Davis questioned whether CYF were being "upfront" and wondered how national statistics were collected if they were not collected regionally first.

Ms Tolley acknowledged the system was "broken".

"I have had concerns about the lack of good data in CYF and this was confirmed by the expert panel I appointed in April to provide advice on a complete overhaul of the agency. I believe the current system is broken, and that major transformational change is needed to better meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people," Ms Tolley said.

Ms Ardern said she knew information was collated at a national level but questioned the rationale behind not collating that information at a regional level.

"Each region is different," she said. "It's not about data collecting for the sake of data collecting. It's about making sure that kind of information is collected so you can use it. For example, so we can say there's more kids in the care of individual caregivers therefore that tells us we need more emergency caregivers," she said.

Ms Ardern believed the lack of good data in the agency was because of staffing issues and said more resources were needed.