CYF seeks caregivers for troubled teens

18:00, Feb 10 2013
jess harris
Simon Coventry

There are many troubled teenagers living in South Canterbury who could use a helping hand.

But finding people willing and suited to work with those teens can be a daunting task, says Simon Coventry, the Mid and South Canterbury youth justice manager for Child, Youth and Family.

He's now set that as a target for his team: to recruit people who are specifically interested in working with CYF's teen clients.

"It's very hard to find caregivers who want to work with teenagers," he said. "We have a massive issue.

"Most caregivers do prefer to look after littlies. Who wants a difficult 14 or 15-year-old, buggering off and getting up to mischief?"

Teenagers present challenges that smaller children simply don't. They're prone to running away from carers, sometimes repeatedly, a dangerous and ongoing problem that a recent investigation by the Timaru Herald has brought to light.


They also engage in risky behaviours involving drugs and alcohol, sex, and sometimes committing crimes.

"It's difficult for caregivers," Mr Coventry said. "A lot of caregivers do get fed up and they say, ‘I don't want this person here any more'. It's a tough ask."

But CYF has seen many success stories, and the right person can make all the difference for a difficult teen who's struggling to deal with "a whole host of baggage", he said.

"It's really important with every teenager that there is someone that they can connect to," he said. "They need to have a significant adult in their life who they feel safe talking with and who takes an interest in their wellbeing."

CYF is looking not only for caregivers, but also for people willing to work with teenagers on projects or recreational activities that would be beneficial for the children and could provide them with quality time with a role model.

"Just average blokes out there who do blokey things like fix cars and make stuff and go fishing," he said. "Some of these kids ... they love tinkering with stuff. We also get quite a number of kids who are good at art," Mr Coventry said.

If you are interested in talking with CYF staff about becoming a caregiver or working with teens, contact Nic O'Driscoll on 03 956 4484.

The Timaru Herald