25 Jun 2012

Third-party eye needed for foster care - judge

7:42 pm on 25 June 2012

Too many children in foster care are emerging as victims of sexual or physical abuse and sometimes even as criminals says a former youth court judge.

One solution may lie in paying for a third party to monitor foster-children and ensure they're safe, says Judge Carolyn Henwood.

But Judge Henwood - who was meeting government and iwi representatives on Monday to discuss ways to improve the state of foster care in New Zealand - says she doesn't believe either the state or Maori have the resources at the moment to fill that role.

A former youth court judge, she chairs the official Confidential Listening and Assistance Service and says there's not enough monitoring at present of foster-care placements.

Her listening and assistance service provides a forum for people who allege abuse or neglect, or have concerns about their time in state care before 1992, including those from psychiatric hospitals, health camps, child welfare care and special education homes.

Judge Henwood says many foster children are moved from household to household, and experience feelings of rage and abandonment.

About half of the 5000 children in state care are Maori and Judge Henwood says far too many foster children suffer sexual and physical abuse and fall into a life of crime.