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Call for more helpers . . . Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki Timaru/Ashburton sites manager Simon Coventry says it is important for adults to listen to teenagers.

by Greta Yeoman

South Canterbury needs more foster carers, a Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki spokesman says.

The ministry’s Timaru/Ashburton sites manager, Simon Coventry, said 84 children were in foster care in the region.

Young children unable to make a new life with someone in their extended family often needed somewhere permanent to live, while other children were transitioning out of state care back into family life, he said.

“They’re not bad kids.” – Simon Conventry

It was better for a young person if they could live in a “family environment”.

“[An] awful lot of children have had a difficult start in life,” he said.

While some children did come with “high needs” and would need more support from their foster families, the issues faced by the children were often due to their difficult childhoods, he said.

“They’re not bad kids.”

A mix of individuals and couples cared for children in South Canterbury, and all potential foster carers would go through training, assessments and police checks, he said.

Like any other family, there were difficulties but foster families “have a lot of fun” as well.

worker, said it was important adults listened to teenagers as well as paying them attention and doing things with them.

As the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki was a new one – although it does incorporate parts of the former Child, Youth and Family, some MSD and Community Investment schemes – there had only been subtle changes to the services provided by the foster schemes so far, Mr Coventry said.

He expected larger changes would be made to the services at a later date, but was unsure of what would happen.

For now, the biggest thing for the ministry’s Timaru branch was the total refurbishment of its family home.