25 Jun 2012

More foster care monitoring needed - former judge

1:28 pm on 25 June 2012

A former Youth Court judge says there is insufficent monitoring of foster care placements in New Zealand, with many children being put in poor quality care.

Judge Carolyn Henwood is meeting other figures from the sector in a bid to come up with a framework for managing foster care.

Child Youth and Family has apologised to a Taranaki woman, who was sexually assaulted and infected with HIV while in the care of her uncle, a convicted rapist.

Judge Henwood said that in cases where care is done poorly, there are very bad outcomes, including sexual and physical abuse and in many cases a significant link with later criminal offending.

She told Nine to Noon that one of the big problems is the established belief that children are best placed with family members.

Judge Henwood said family needs to be scrutinised too and sending children to any old uncle is not good enough.

She said many children are put into care at the moment with insufficient follow-up to check on their welfare.

Outsourcing urged

A mentoring programme for fatherless boys says Child Youth & Family should outsource to professionals the screening of potential caregivers.

The service put mandatory criminal checks were put in place earlier this year.

But Big Buddy chief executive Richard Aston says criminal checks are simply not good enough on their own, as they can miss something.

Mr Aston says there needs to be a more robust screening process.

He says Big Buddy has made a submission to a Government Green Paper suggesting a rigorous national screening programme be implemented, looking at people's potential to be child abusers, not just their past behaviour.