Seven children removed from their Porirua home seemed almost afraid of washing themselves, one of their caregivers says.
The mere mention of food would have the children running to the table to see what they were going to be given, a jury in the High Court at Wellington has been told.
Eight children were taken from their home in March 2010. The youngest, a baby just a few months old, had special health needs and was cared for separately.
The parents of the children, mother, 42, and father, 55, are charged with cruelty and sex offences. The father and another man are charged with assault. The third man, the mother's cousin, is also facing sex charges.
They pleaded not guilty and their names are suppressed.
When the children were removed all but the youngest went to a CYF house where the caregiver said she had to teach them basic skills.
"The whole lot of them were scared to have water on their faces," she said.
"It was a big thing to them having their meals."
The trial is continuing.
- The Dominion Post