Six CYF children a month housed in motels
Child, Youth and Family has housed six children a month on average in motels and backpacker hostels because of a shortage of caregivers.
Figures obtained by The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act show that 54 children in CYF care were placed in motels, backpackers and guest houses from January to September last year.
CYF said it could not provide details on how many nights each child had spent in motels as the information was held in individual files.
However, separate figures suggest the department is spending tens of thousands of dollars on putting children up in motels and similar accommodation, and paying for their food, as stays can be lengthy.
Children in CYF care who stay at motels or backpackers are accompanied by around-the-clock minders, who are paid between $10-$17 an hour.
The department had launched a nationwide recruitment campaign to boost the number of caregivers around the country.
National MP Judith Collins said it was “totally inappropriate” for children who had been removed from their homes because of possible ill-treatment to be “holed up in a motel room with a TV and nothing else”.
Ms Collins also said it was appalling that CYF did not keep records on how much it spends on putting children up in motels.
More than 70 children in Child, Youth and Family care have been removed from their foster parents after allegations that they had been physically and sexually abused by them in the past two years.
The figures, released to The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act after seven months, show that 34 children alleged physical or sexual abuse against their foster parents in the year to June 2003, and 41 made claims in the year to June 2004.
The department initially said it did not keep such statistics but its specialist video unit eventually provided the figures. However, the unit does not deal with all complaints or abuse allegations. It records interviews only after strong concerns of abuse, which can then be used as evidence in court.
CYF said there was no central record of how many claims had been substantiated, but said it was working to install a system that would make the information available.
In the year to June 2004, six children said their foster fathers had sexually abused them, 18 said their foster mothers had physically abused them and 17 alleged their foster fathers had physically abused them.
The figures come after eight CYF workers were sacked for “inappropriate behaviour” at work last year.
The Family and Foster Care Federation has begun a pilot scheme aimed at providing support for foster carers who face allegations of abuse.