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Cyfs Overkill/priorities Wrong?

#1 User is offline   karlasmum11111 

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Posted 08 August 2004 - 07:47 PM

I am reading with interest the huge amount of CYFS cases where children have died or been placed in at risk situations due to a lack of interest or action on behalf of cyfs despite screaming 'alarm bells' signalling 'these kids are in danger, someone do something!!!"
There is another side to this that is equally alarming but does not get as much publicity or public interest, that is the situation where by cyfs trying to balance out the recent rush of negative publicity against them will instead go into OVERKILL,
that is, racing in, full on like the gestapo without checking facts and removing children unnecessarily often based on false assumptions from community members or spiteful allegations of 'ex friends, ex partners' etc that are blown totally out of proportion and context.
These parents are often shocked and bewildered at the accusations levelled at them, insisting 'I havent, I didnt' only to come up against the departments 'take now, prove later' mentality.
Sites online such as PANIC, NZ parents Vs CYFS,Scoop, Investigate & Kiwi news to name a few are full of such cases.
For an innocent parent placed in such a predicament, there is little to no help or support available for them to prove otherwise, it is a common assumption that 'if cyfs are involved, there MUST be something to the allegations' so often these parents are left at the mercy of large departmental bodies who have already 'made their minds up'.
Although it states clearly that if notifications are based on spite or maliciousness there is provision via the Guardianship act to prosecute malicious notifications this seldom happens, as the social workers then have to justify why they didnt check 'more thoroughly' which puts THEM in a bad spot.
In my opinion, MORE should be done in the risk assessment department, ie; separating the REAL from IMAGINED cases of child abuse, one standard formula DOES NOT fit all, this is why serious cases are slipping through the cracks and frivolous cases are devastating many families.
Until my personal experience with the Department, I actually WANTED to become a Social worker and help these kids that they were failing, but NOW after seeing what total destruction and devastation a wrong decision on my part could bring, I'm not so sure I want the responsibility and feel I am better sticking to my 'left wing activist lobbying'. B)

#2 User is offline   doppelganger 

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Posted 08 August 2004 - 09:23 PM

you are corect karalassmum. there is a need to look at the most serious thing but often when they ask a question and the question is answered under preasure the wrong answer is given. i've seen this happn personally when kids get lost. the outhorityget side tracked and often look for causes. one of the favourate was to ask why has the kid run away when the kid just lost there bearings.

a good one was when a police officer got lost in the local forest. (he was searching for a kid) found him walking around in circles. when in front of all the officers I asked why the heck was he hiding from his boss? does your boss treat you so bad that you hide?

yes I got told off but I did tell the senior officer that is the same type of questions that you ask kids that have been scared for the past few hours.

most of the hipe comes from the spin doctors. these are the same people that put in place the fair and the stupid figures.

when dealing with these people always ask where they obtained the information from. stay cool and remind that everything in any document must abide by the privacy act. they must check all information given to them before using it.

#3 User is offline   karlasmum11111 

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 04:41 PM

i agree totally, its high time CYFS actually went OUT there and had a look at the sheer volume of roaming teenagers and go banging on doors asking parents WHY these kids are out roaming. They are likely to find the majority are already in their care.
If I HAD a prior cyfs record yes it would be a good way for ACC to obtain info, trouble was I DIDNT.
I feel the reason they became involved was because it would cost a s***load of money to maintain my child by ACC till adulthood, whereas, if i were to be found negligent in some way, that childs needs would be footed by CYFS rather than ACC.
Alas I'm not the only one whose child after an accident has CYFS sniffing round looking for potential problems, I spend a lot of time in hospital with my son and get chatting to other parents of accident victims who ironically also have cyfs lurking in the background trying to imply all manner of things

#4 User is offline   Britts 

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 05:45 PM

Hi Guys,

It`s quite interesting reading people`s opinions of CYPS.

We did some caregiving in the past for them over maybe 8 years, and we found that they often sent some of the kids back to their parents with undue haste.

We found that we were used like a revolving door, spending 3-4 months cleaning and feeding some kids. (one in particular) It seemed that we would just get them settled into a reasonable pattern, then the mother would ask for them back.

Six weeks later the same kid would be back, filthy, hungry, and suffering from all types of abuse. It went on for 3 years! The mother had 7 other kids out in care at the same time.

Finally we had enough and complained to the family court judge plus the head of CYPS. Within 2 hours we had her removed from us also.

We didn`t see her for about another 6 years when CYPS came back and said we`ve made a mistake could you look after her again. We tried but it wasn`t right for her by then, as too much had changed.

So our feeling was at that the time anyway, the parents had all the rights and damn the kids.

I`d have to say in my experience, that some parents seem to be able to dish out all sorts of cruelty, but the kids still love them the best.

I wouldn`t be a CYPS social worker for quids, as I don`t think there is ever a really happy outcome for anyone. I think a lot of them lack parental or life experience themselves.

#5 User is offline   Tomcat 

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 07:25 PM

There has been so much gone wrong in the way Cyfs has performed over a long time. My own experiences, 1960, I became a ward of the state. It was my choice.
I was lucky I had an welfare officer who understood me and what was needed in my case. I eventually returned to family, my Grandmother.

Now I am custodian / guardian of my Grandson. CYFS only were involved to report to the court. They supported me in this, so in this case they did it right.
My grandson is ADHD, and I have the time and patience cope with him.

My point is that FAMILY can help, do the best in most cases, and this is where CYFS should be looking to place children, especially the very younger ones.
Of course there are instances where that is not in the child's best interests.

#6 User is offline   karlasmum11111 

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Posted 09 August 2004 - 08:25 PM

I definitely beleive as an organisation cyfs SHOULD exist, in a world like todays they are sadly very necessary, I just feel that their investigative techniques leave a lot to be desired they need to be a lot more thorough in their checking than they are both for signs that things 'arent right' and also to check for allegations made out of spite or for financial gain.
Noone was the least bit interested in us until my sons accident when he became a 'funding mecca' for a variety of organisations.
Like tom said in his post certain kids need lots of time and patience that not everyone can provide, apart from my sons injuries we are presently in the process of getting him assessed for Aspergers, which is similar to ADD and Autism but not so immediately obvious. I always knew he was 'different' from other kids but couldnt put my finger on it, and it would also go a bit closer to explaining why he even climbed a tree he was told a thousand times to keep out of.
It worries me that he could end up being put somewhere where a person doesnt have the time and patience that I do as YES he can be trying, I'm presently trying to prove to them that his behavioural differences are NOT because anything bad is happening at home, but something he was BORN with that a change of scenery will NOT cure.

#7 User is offline   twostickswalking 

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Posted 11 August 2004 - 06:39 PM

as twostickswalking wife, I hope you all remember him, I have finally had my day with the employment relations authority. The decision is out.

I worked with cyps in Blenhiem, and due to a very harrowing time, I had to resort to taking my case to the Authority, I intially brought a case to the authority about discrimination (I have a disability), the ERA did not find on this, but found on disadvantage, you can read all about it in the next two days, it is my understanding that the ERA has a 17 page decision that has been released., this is now to be reported in the daily newspaper.

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Posted 12 August 2004 - 02:43 PM

CYF dishes out $1m in bonuses for staff


Child, Youth and Family has paid more than $1 million in performance and bonus payments to staff in the past two years.

Figures given to the Herald yesterday show CYF staff have received bonus payments of $784,033 and performance payments of $426,717 over the past two years.

CYF has faced a barrage of criticism for its handling of high-profile child-abuse cases, and last year was severely criticised in a damning departmental review.

That report found CYF was facing "deep and systemic problems" highlighted by a lack of management focus.

It said that despite a 50 per cent increase in funding between 1999 and 2002 "some aspects of CYF's performance have got worse".

But CYF has defended the bonuses and special payments, saying the overriding principle guiding the department's remuneration policy was that employees should be paid fairly for the work they did.

Its approach to bonus payments was to reward staff who had performed exceptionally over the year.

"The policy is intended to reward and retain employees who are skilled and competent and contribute significantly to the achievement of the department's goals," CYF human resources head Derek Howell said.

Performance payments were "contractual obligations" and could not be viewed as discretionary or "bonuses".

Senior staff had up to 15 per cent of their agreed remuneration withheld, and received performance payments only if they performed their jobs competently, and met agreed performance measures.

The performance and bonus payments are separate to a $7000 incentive payment being offered in a new campaign to attract more qualified staff and reduce the department's case backlog.

To attract top social worker graduates, CYF is offering a $7000 payment - $3500 to be paid after one year of service, and $3500 after two years'.

Mr Howell said the number and value of performance payments was expected to decline as the number of staff entitled to them continued to fall.

But bonus payments might increase as the department continued to recognise staff who performed in exceptional circumstances.

National's social services spokeswoman Katherine Rich questioned the payments, saying she was surprised such sums had been paid to staff in a department "currently in crisis".

Act's social welfare spokeswoman, Muriel Newman, said it was ironic that CYF was still paying performance and bonus payments after the Government's heavy rhetoric about the issue three years ago.

Prime Minister Helen Clark and Social Development and Employment Minister Steve Maharey had been committed to ridding the public sector of such extravagance, she said.

"Here we have a department in crisis with record notifications, unallocated case blowouts and staff are getting bonus payments.

"It doesn't do anything for the public perception of CYF."

CYF Minister Ruth Dyson said bonus and performance payments were entirely at the discretion of the department.

The number of suspected child abuse cases is continuing to rise. More than 3000 complaints were reported last month.

Figures for July show 3579 suspected cases - a 9.4 per cent increase since June.

The South Island, with 632 complaints, and the east-west regions with 631 complaints were the worst in the country.

Next-worst was the northern region, which includes Northland, North Shore and Waitakere, with 591 complaints.

CYF bonuses

In the past two years, 752 staff from a workforce of around 2500 have received bonus payments.

The average payment in the 2002-2003 financial year was $929. In the 2003-2004 year it was $1294.

In the past 12 months, payments have ranged from $54 to $5000.

A total of 135 staff received performance payments.

In the 2002-2003 year, the average for these was $3277.

In 2003-2004, the average was $3012.

The highest that year was $11,000.

#9 User is offline   karlasmum11111 

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Posted 12 August 2004 - 07:56 PM

It makes one wonder what 'performance ' means to them.
If it means actually completing cases with a happy outcome for all, then good on them, they deserve something i suppose,
But if its per quota of how many 'permanencys' or removals are acheived then its a bit of a worry.
Its time social workers had a regulatory body of some sort to monitor their techniques and progress, as presently there is nothing in place to separate the good social workers from the corrupt.
Also they place much emphasis on new grads, new grads may know all the basic principles of social practice via textbook, but most lack life experience which i feel is essential. A social worker who has BEEN a streetkid, battered wife, drug addict or whatever is far more valuable in my opinion than an idealistic 20 year old who's done a course and whos biggest life dilemma is whether to wear her blue shoes or her brown shoes.
Two sticks walking, where can i read about your discrimination case? I'd be really interested to check it out.
You would think that a big social service agency such as CYFS would be totally in favour of being an 'equal opportunity ' employer, but clearly not

#10 User is offline   jocko 

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Posted 12 August 2004 - 11:05 PM

Bearing in mind there are a lot of really good people doing a fine job with kids without any qualifications. There is a very disturbing trend in this country for the beuracracy to consider itself above anyone else in the health and social welfare arena. The current debate on case managers trying to influence doctors is a prime example. The enormous powers of personal invasion being conferred on these individuals with little or no qualifications is leading to more and more examples of outright persecution. The practises employed by both ACC and CYFS can only really be described politically correctly as gross examples of Bullying.

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Posted 29 August 2004 - 11:09 PM

Children's agency can't prove its worth
29 August 2004

The agency charged with protecting our children cannot tell whether its interventions are effective - or whether the same abused children are repeatedly coming through its doors.

A damning review of Child, Youth and Family (CYF) last year suggested as many as half of the now more than 43,000 calls made annually to CYF are about children who have already been the subject of complaints.

The review, by Treasury, the State Services Commission, the Ministry of Social Development and CYF, argued children would not be coming back if they were dealt with properly the first time and urged the department to find out more about its repeat cases.

Yet CYF cannot tell the Sunday Star-Times what proportion of its cases in the last year were renotifications because it does not collate that data.

To see whether calls were renotifications or "double-ups", when several calls were taken on the same day or in the same month just before an investigation, the service would have to open each case-note, a spokeswoman said.

National MP Katherine Rich said that was "utterly ridiculous", claiming CYF's database should be able to determine the level of repeat interventions.

"You have to know that to run an effective child-protection organisation."

Ron Burrows, the father of murdered six-year-old schoolgirl Coral Burrows, called for CYF's work to be monitored by an independent body.

"They've spent too long covering their arses," Burrows said, referring to CYF's initial denial that it received, but ignored, his phone call warning about Coral months before she was killed.

"They definitely need a shake-up. This is about saving children's lives here."

In the year to June 30, CYF received 43,414 notifications of child abuse, of which 36,066 required further action by social workers - an increase of 28% on the previous year. The increase in the number of suspected critical cases, where CYF was required to act within 24 hours, was 41.1%.

Social agencies are worried the increases indicate CYF is not coping: that its social workers have less time, investigations are cursory and more children are "bouncing back".

A sample of 2001 cases analysed in last year's review indicated renotifications were a significant driver of demand on the service, accounting for 50% of CYF's care and protection cases and nearly 60% of youth justice cases.

Investigations manager for the Office of the Commissioner for Children, Gordon McFadyen, said CYF's failure to track renotifications was a worry as the data could indicate social workers' interventions were not up to scratch.

"What we've always been worried about is that where people are focused on reducing unallocated cases they're not focused on the quality of social work going on," he said. "They're just trying to get numbers off the list."

Lesley Max, director of the Pacific Foundation for Health, Education and Parent Support, said CYF's high rate of estimated renotifications indicated its interventions were not early or intensive enough, and failed to look at whole families.

"If the focus is on events rather than context, you get an immediate response to an event but you get no long-term change."

However, CYF's acting chief social worker, Craig Smith, said renotification rates were not a good measure of outcomes or practice. They did not differentiate between negative renotifications - where the service had not resolved issues - and positive ones, where CYF had asked agencies or families to renotify if they had further concerns. Last year's review established new measures for reducing recurrent maltreatment and the department was working on a system for analysing those recurrences.

Although the service had installed a new $13.7 million computerised casework system only three years earlier, the review recommended the department be given $3.5m this year and a further $7.85m next year to improve its information systems.,00.html

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