Topic: Politics

Should CYF responsibilities be shifted to the private sector?

By Semi Holland

Labour MP Peeni Henare says he's against any move to shift some of CYF's responsibilities to the private sector.  This comes after a damning report which found systemic problems within the service.  However, Prime Minister John Key isn't ruling out any future involvement of the private sector with CYF.

Manukau Urban Maori Authority CEO Willie Jackson supports the Prime Minister's call to shift some of CYF's responsibilities to the private sector.

Jackson says it's.. "Because what CYF is doing isn't right, we know that."

The move follows after a damning report from the Children's Commissioner Dr Russell Wills found systemic problems within CYF and questioned whether children were better off in state care.  Labour MP Peeni Henare fears private contracts could fall into the hands of Serco.

Henare says, "The way Serco has been managing prisons is a huge concern at the moment, especially for those who manage services for the people."

"This is different to Serco.  Urban Māori Authorities know what happens on a daily basis," says Jackson.

The report says CYF is struggling with 150,000 notifications of possible child abuse and neglect each year.  It doesn't provide enough on-going supervision and support to foster carers and staff looking after over 5133 children in state care.

"Reaching out to community groups and tribes is where the solution is.  The problem shouldn't be left to foreigners to manage," adds Henare.

Some Youth Speciality Service carers characterised CYF's attitude to placement of children as "dump-and-run".  Most children in state care are Māori.  It's hoped that rectifying problems highlighted within CYF is a top priority for the government.