More South Island babies in care

More babies were taken from mothers and put in Government care in the South Island last year despite a North Island area having bigger population.

Information released under the Official Information Act revealed that nearly a third (247) of the 772 babies taken and placed in Government care in the past five years were born in the South Island.

Child, Youth and Family (CYF) southern regional director Kelly Anderson said the decision to put ''vulnerable little babies'' into care within 30 days of the birth was based on the child's need for safety, the parent's situation and the support available.

Some babies were taken from unco-operative families using a court order, she said.

And some babies were placed in care when the families had requested assistance to have the baby adopted out, she said.

''Not all of them are where we have taken children against the wishes of their families.''

About 20% of the babies taken into care in the southern region last year were on the ''adoption pathway'' with the family's agreement.

She knew of babies born in the Southern region who were placed in government care on the same day, she said.

New Zealand was broken into four CYF regions - central, midlands and northern and southern. Southern region included all the babies taken into care from across the South Island, Mrs Anderson said.

''We have larger numbers in the Canterbury area, a spread across Otago and Southland and smaller numbers in the upper south area.''

The southern region had the most babies taken into Government care but was not the region with the largest population, she said.

''The midlands is our smallest region, central and southern are more similarly sized and northern is obviously our biggest region, with Auckland being in the middle of the region.''

The reason for fewer babies being taken in the north could be because families in the northern region had better access to family and community support than the ''more geographically spread'' southern region, she said.

CYF deputy chief executive Bernadine Mackenzie said an infant was removed from the parents care only if CYF had serious concerns.

''Parents may have a history of concerns, there may be issues of serious family violence, chronic mental health concerns, addiction, previous physical abuse of older children or previous neglect.''

- shawn.mcavinue@odt.co.nz

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