CYF 'sorry' over child-sex blunder

KEITH LYNCH
Last updated 05:00 27/12/2011

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A mother whose two toddlers were due to be put into care with a sexually abusive pre-teenager has gained an apology from Child, Youth and Family (CYF).

The government body has promised to introduce "new rules and checks to ensure this cannot happen again".

This month, the girls, 2 and 3, were booked to spend several days in a CYF respite home. The girls are normally in the care of their grandmother and were to spend a weekend in the home to give her a break.

They were meant to visit their father, who is in prison, while in the respite home, but the family was told the trip could not be made as one of the other children had to attend the STOP children's treatment programme.

The STOP programme helps children aged 5 to 11 who have "engaged in sexually harmful behaviour".

The children's mother contacted The Press last week via email, horrified at the home her daughters were going to be sent to.

"It came to light ... that a CYF placement so my mum could have respite care was in a home with a child sex offender," she said.

"I am so horrified and scared that if mum hadn't been making a fuss over the lousy service from CYF that my girls would still be going there.

"It couldn't happen because the caregivers had to take their other child to the STOP programme," the mother said.

The error came to light about 24 hours before the girls were put in the home and the placement did not go ahead.

The girls' grandmother and primary carer also hit out at the CYF error.

"Angry would be an under-statement. How dare they place my 2 and 3-year-old granddaughters in this danger?" she said.

"I hit the roof in no uncertain terms. The care team that made this error should be held responsible for their actions."

CYF southern regional director Kelly Anderson told The Press she was shocked at what had happened.

"It is totally inappropriate that arrangements were made to place these two children in that placement for the weekend,'' she said.

"The children's mum and grandmother are rightfully angry, and we have apologised to both.

"While thankfully no harm was done, it is extremely concerning that this occurred. It falls short of what we expect from our staff. I have formally spoken with the staff involved.

"I have looked into how this happened and as a result introduced new rules and checks to ensure this cannot happen again.

"We have put in place a robust respite plan that they are now confident is safe and appropriate."

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