Four years of violence

By Joanne Carroll

Grandmother abused kids in her care

Social workers took four years to take children from a woman accused of beating and neglecting them, despite the pleas and warnings of family and police.

The Herald on Sunday reported last month that an Auckland grandmother had appeared in court, charged with assaulting three children placed in her care by Child, Youth and Family. She is alleged to have hit two with a wooden spoon and neglected two, causing unnecessary suffering. Police say the abuse occurred over three years.

The newspaper has seen a CYF report that reveals the woman's daughter approached the agency in 2008, concerned about her mother's ability to look after the children.

She told CYF her mother smacked them and alleged her mother had not fed the children and had anger issues.

Two more reports show police notified CYF of their concerns in 2010, saying the woman locked the children out of the house, physically and verbally abused them and abused alcohol. Police were not able to prosecute but were sufficiently concerned to warn CYF.

Auckland police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said the charges were a result of police investigations into alleged assaults and neglect between January 2009 and July this year.

The charges were laid after a teacher reported to CYF in May and June regarding alleged abuse. CYF northern regional director Sharon Thom said staff responded immediately to the 2008 allegations.

"In April 2008, Child, Youth and Family was advised of an allegation that included these children being verbally and physically abused and not being fed. We spoke to the children and found that they faced no immediate risk," she said.

The department continued to work with the caregiver to ensure the children's safety and incidents after 2008 were now before the courts. "The children are with approved caregivers and are doing well."

Thom said CYF had been working with the family since 2003, and the children were placed in the woman's care in 2007 with the support of the family.

- Herald on Sunday

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