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PANIC: How to Fight for Your Children in CYFS care.

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on April 28, 2007

Source: PANIC

How to Fight for Your Children in CYFS care.

Overall Strategy

1. Believe in yourself and look after yourself.

2. Seek professional help and the help of all possible supportive relatives, friends, community workers, etc.

3. Tackle CYFS as hard as you can by going to the top with strong complaints to CYFS Chief Executive, Commissioner for Children, and Steve Maharey Minister of Social Welfare, as well as to the local branch of CYFS (see 5).

4. Persevere in tackling the issues, confronting CYFS in every reasonable way and in a professional manner; seek a professional response and accountability from the Department, and complain professionally when that is lacking.

5. Gain essential knowledge of the CYPF Act 1989 and use the law’s provisions to seek legal redress as speedily as possible.

6. Try to understand how the system works. Work within the system and make it work for you rather than stay outside it and let it work you over.

7. Seek God’s help, for with God all things are possible.


1. Request a copy of the CYFS files on you and your children, under both the Official Information Act and the Privacy Act, by sending a typed letter to CYFS including the names and ages of your children (see example of letter to obtain files).

2. Write down and have typed a concise record of the main issues concerning the uplift, using this record to inform potential advocates and to confront CYFS; write up your story including every significant thing that occurs in your battle with CYFS, and keep copies of all communications.

3. Don’t be pressured into signing papers you don’t understand or don’t agree with; and don’t be pressured into admitting guilt for something you didn’t do.

4. Obtain the services of a lawyer known to work/fight effectively for families with respect to CYFS. Decide what you want him/her to do and expect their cooperation and competent advocacy.

5. Write typed letters of complaint to CYFS (Site manager & supervisor of social worker, etc.) regarding the removal of your children and all subsequent concerns, with copy to your lawyer, and to your local MP. Follow up with phone calls, faxes, if they delay in their reply ….

6. Arrange a meeting with CYFS as soon as possible to confront them on why they uplifted the children, accompanied by at least one strong supporter and your lawyer if possible. Always have a supporter with you when visited by CYFS or going to meet them, and have your supporter take notes.

7. Gain the help of supporters by their writing letters, phoning CYFS, and meeting CYFS with you to advocate for you. They would need to use an “Authorisation to disclose personal information” form if communicating separate from you.

8. Visit your MP to gain his/her support; and when needed, to request a ministerial review.

9. Apply through your lawyer to the Family Court, on the basis of section 44 (CYFP Act) for (a) access, if it has been denied, and (b) for return of your children. This will lead to a Family Court hearing sooner or later, probably after a family group conference.

10. For family group conferences plan your strategy and have a team approach. Insist on giving your views and maintain your agreed goals. Don’t feel pressured into agreeing to the views/decisions of the professionals or majority family viewpoint. Non-agreement means a Family Court hearing will be necessary and will be more likely to result in an appropriate decision for your children.

11. In preparing for a Court hearing, obtain the support of people who know you well to write affidavits attesting to your character and competence as a good parent.

12. Write and speak to the Office of the Commissioner for Children to seek investigation regarding inappropriate actions of CYFS. Postal Address: PO Box 5610, Wellington; Street Address: Level 12, 86-90 Lambton Quay, Wellington City. Phone: 04 471 1410; Fax: 04 471 1418; Toll Free Call: 0800 22 44 53 (0800 A CHILD); E-Mail: Website:

13. Write and speak to the Ombudsman, PO Box 10-152, Wellington, phone 0800 802 602, for clarification of your legal rights and to seek an investigation. Mr Edie Twist is the CYFS investigator.

14. Obtain a copy of the CYPF Act (1989) (from major bookstores), or read it in the local library, or on-line at the Public Access to Legislation Project, to learn the key principles and procedures for resolving family issues through CYFS and the Family Court.

15. Obtain a copy of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child from the office of the Commissioner for Children, or from PANIC ($1).

Compiled by John Tonson, Panic Director

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