New Zealand Labour Party

Hotel no place for children in care

Revelations today that a young person under the care of the Ministry For Vulnerable Children was placed in a hotel is just plain wrong – and it isn’t a one-off, says Labour’s spokesperson for Children, Jacinda Ardern.

“This was an issue we raised six months ago, that the Minister could and should have started working on as soon as she knew it was happening.

“I heard in October last year that children in care were being placed in hotels, so I went directly to the Minister to find out if it was true.

“The Minister refused to give me numbers, saying it would take too much time to collate. She also claimed hotels and motels were ‘only ever used as a placement option for young people in exceptional circumstances’ and were a ‘temporary measure only’.

“The case detailed in the media today totally contradicts the Minister’s claims. The young person in this case was told he could be there up to a month – that is not temporary.

“To also place a young person, who has such high mental health needs, in such a vulnerable situation seems unfathomable.

“The Minister also claimed that ‘all children and young people have an adult assigned to supervise them whilst in transit’ but in this case, that supervision seems to have been via phone.

“This is not a case of blaming the social workers involved – I have no doubt that they will only want the best for the children in their care. But what kind of situation have we left them, and children in, if a hotel is the best that a child with such high needs can hope for?

“Reorganising CYFs into a new ministry is one thing, but unless we have the resources and support in place for our foster carers, respite placements and decent residential facilities, we aren’t making any child’s or family’s life any better,” says Jacinda Ardern.