Foster parents harder to find
Child, Youth and Family is finding it more challenging to place children as work commitments take increasing amounts of potential caregivers' time.
CYF midlands regional director Sue Critchley told the Waikato Times the department never failed to place a child, but it was increasingly challenging to find someone who had time to take on other people's children.
"It's more challenging because there are lots of families where everyone is in work . . . they must work now," Critchley said.
"In terms of foster homes and caregivers, we are always looking for them for a variety of reasons. Sometimes we don't know how long it is going to take because we need to look at the family. It can be anywhere from two days to a few months."
Fostercare Awareness Week begins on November 3.
Hamilton couple James and Heather Tuhoro, who have been foster parents for CYF since 1997, keep taking children because their need is so great.
"It's really hard to find carers," Mrs Tuhoro said. She has lost count of the amount of children she has fostered: "I think it's 513."
The shortest stay has been overnight, the longest eight years.
"It really depends on their concerns and how bad a situation they are coming from."
The couple are caring for four children in their four bedroom home, but can take six in emergencies.
"It's really hard for CYF to find carers because a lot of people have not got the time. Some of the little children you have to spend time with."
Critchley said every foster parent came with different skills and experience.
"We try and match the children and caregivers with what's going to work.
"It's about people putting their hands up to care for children they are not connected to.
"It takes a really special person.
"We have some caregivers who have been caregivers for a very long time . . . we can't do the job without our caregivers."
Potential carers are rigorously assessed before they are called upon.
"The number of children in care in the Waikato varies between 400 and 450, over half are placed with their families . . . uncles, aunts, grandparents or cousins, but we have been looking for longer term options.
Teenagers are our biggest challenge, they are going through that tough stage . . . everyone struggles with teenagers.
"It takes a special person, or persons, to care for a child that's not theirs."