Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Foster mother writes book about her dealings with CYF

Sean Plunket interviewed author Karen Scott this morning. RadioNZ has done likewise:
Child, Youth and Family's (CYF) fostering system is failing the children it is meant to be protecting, a foster mother has told Nine to Noon.
Karen Scott said she and her husband took in a five-year-old boy who had been removed from his father's care, and told Nine to Noon why after two years she felt she had no choice but to ask CYF to take him back.

She clearly loved this child but he had psychological problems (culminating?) in killing a family cat. That is not reported in the article on Radio NZ and I have not listened to their interview. But the woman seemed genuine, quite heartbroken in having to relinquish the child, and wracked with guilt about whether her actions had affected her own and husband's children.

When describing her experience with CYF she was not damning of individuals, just the system and processes they had to work with. Resolving small matters could take inordinate time (when the boy needed a haircut CYF were worried about cultural sensitivity). But important stuff, like trying to get professional help for the child, seemed impossible.

Sean said that there were times when reading the book he wasn't sure about his own response and that it is a hard read. But he applauded her bravery in writing the book.

(I note RadioNZ does not name the book which is called Another Mother's Love)

In 2011 Karen Scott and Mark Finlay and their six children opened their home and hearts to a sad, skinny five-year-old boy who was placed with them by New Zealand's Child, Youth and Family services. James arrived with nothing other than the clothes he was wearing, supposedly for just a short-term stay. But what followed were two turbulent years as Karen and Mark attempted to parent a very troubled young boy.
Another Mother's Love is a heart-wrenching account of a mother's attempt to nurture her foster child with unconditional love and kindness. However, is love enough? Karen and Mark faced a harrowing decision – to give up James or risk their family's future.

Listening I formed a mental picture of CYF putting a troubled child with new foster parents and hoping like hell that the new family and environment would work...multiplied across many, many more families.


Paranormal said...

I heard the State radio interview this morning. It saddened me because, as you correctly predict, CYFs repeat the experience around the country.

My best friend had exactly the same experience as Karen Scott. thought they were doing the right thing by bringing a child into their family to only a few years later having to ask CYFs to take him away due to serious behavioural problems. The final straw was when he tried what Karens son did to the cat, on my friends daughter.

All the way through they got no assistance from CYF. They supposedly had a psychologist/counsellor appointed to assist with the behavioural issues but they never once assisted or even saw the child.

It is scary to think where these children will end up when they reach adulthood.

JC said...

We've got relatives who did the fostering thing for years but there are real problems.

One girl took to the foster mother with a spade and had to be physically tied up till she got over her murderous rage. A boy was so badly traumatised by his ex home environment he spent his time masturbating in front of the family and children.

OK we are talking of the swamp end of the market but the kids who are better are still terribly damaged.

My parents used to take in kids but I was of an age to protect my siblings, but I still remember the occasional terror inspired in my much younger brother by one kid and when my wife and I took in a kid we had to face off large individuals who came round at night looking for their "drug mule".

But then there's the good side.. in earlier years we provided a sort of drop in centre for a bunch of Maori kids who had no one at home when they finished school for the day. They palyed happily in the yard with our accomodating young son, ate ravenously of homecooked shortbread and chocolate things until they were quietly removed by the police and authorities over time and we didn't see them again for years..

I remember one coming back in his early 20s.. somewhat off his face but loved the shortbread again and as he left he asked with a cheeky grin.. "Is the housekey still under the (outside) BBQ grill?" and yeah.. we said it still was :) But these damaged kids never took advantage.

Sometimes it works and sometimes you end up in a Darklands TV scenario.


Anonymous said...

Maybe a return to more traditional values is the answer.
Kids grew up in families once and neglected children were far rarer.
The old days were indeed the good old days?

Rick said...

There is nothing CYFs or any agency could do well in the circumstances of a child like this. Seeking reform reinforces the lie that it can be fixed, that the state can help.

Of course all they can do is have long phone conversations where they don't say anything. Promise to follow up but not. Require parent inductions that amount only to politically correct nonsense rather than meet the needs. Those things Karen describes are familiar to us all. Including the old trick of there being a form the bureau says you haven't filled out and that's why there has been a delay- not at their end!

Wealthy All Black and his ex-model wife have hands full raising step-family already. She didn't know that bringing in another kid would ripple through that family system? This, and statism, is most of what's wrong with this sad story.

SBeast said...

Audio here:


Anonymous said...

Read the book and hated it. My heart went out the tiny tot. @ years later they give him back??? Maybe their 2 years of parenting him had something to do with his issues. How can the behaviour all be placed on his experiences prior to arriving at their house?!

SJ Sullivan said...

That is so very true!