A Taranaki woman who was put in the care of a convicted rapist during her teens has had an apology from Child Youth and Family.
At 16, the woman whose real name has not been released, was taken from her family and placed with an uncle who had spent six years in prison for taking part in a gang rape and who subsequently sexually abused her.
The woman said a friend of her uncle’s who has since died from AIDS also abused her and she and her first born son are HIV positive.
In a statement reported by Marae Investigates, the Ministry of Social Development said it was a gap in CYF policy that had let the woman down.
“In 2001 it wasn’t mandatory for CYF staff to do criminal checks around family placement decisions made at youth justice Family Group Conferences.”
Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive David Shanks said that staff at the time still had to check the suitability of caregivers and the Ministry does not condone the placement of any child or young person with a convicted sex offender.
How appalling. Part of the solution is better checks, but part of the solution is revisiting the policy that family members be the priority for placement of children needing care. Often if the parents are unsuitable to raise a child, so are the wider family. Abuse does not occur in a vacuum.
Criminal checks for CYF placements became compulsory early this year.
As I said, that is a good step, but not necessarily the only one to be taken.