Runaway girl’s parents give CYF joint custody

Runaway girl’s parents give CYF joint custody

By AMY MILNE – The Southland Times | Saturday, 09 August 2008

The parents of an Invercargill teenager have voluntarily signed joint custody of their daughter over to Child, Youth and Family in the hope it will prevent her from running away from home again.

Janelle Savage, 14, was found in Christchurch on Wednesday night, ending three months of anguish for her parents John and Christine Savage.

Police found Janelle, who had been missing from Invercargill since May 9, at the South City Mall in Columbo St about 6pm on Wednesday after a tip.

Police placed Janelle in the care of Child Youth and Family, and yesterday her parents signed joint custody over to the organisation in the bid to curb her habit of running away.

She was yesterday transferred from Christchurch to CYF’s Puketai Residential Centre in Dunedin.

It was a decision the Savages grappled with but believed it was the right one.

“Christine and I are finding this very tough,” Mr Savage said.

“We love our daughter a lot and are trying to do the right thing … it’s a hard decision to sign her to Social Welfare (Child Youth and Family) — joint custody — it’s hard to do that to your own kid. But I’m hoping this is going to break the cycle and she’ll know the consequences for her running away.” Police knew little of what Janelle had been doing but believed she had been staying predominantly with a former Invercargill woman.

The woman the Savages believed Janelle was staying with in Christchurch used to live next door to the family. Janelle had run off to stay with her four times now, Mr Savage said.

He said the woman was a bad influence on Janelle.

While Mr and Mrs Savage had not spoken to Janelle, they had received text messages from her saying she was “very sorry, she loves us and wants to come home”, Mr Savage said.

“It brought a bloody tear to the eye, actually.

“We love our kids. We love Janelle and we just want what’s best for her and it’s a wee bit hard when she keeps running away.” Janelle would remain at Puketai at least until Monday when a decision would be made about whether she would stay on, come home or be placed into another CYF home, Mr Savage said.


This is a terrible situation. The parents lost the heart of their daughter to their neighbour and it has wrecked their family life. If you are in a similar situation I would highly recommend listening to this tape. It is excellent:


2 responses to “Runaway girl’s parents give CYF joint custody”

  1. Ivy Felicia Avatar
    Ivy Felicia

    I think for any parent that this would be a hard situation. I don’t think that you as parents should beat yourself up about sharing custody with CYA. However, I think there might be other alternatives. I have been in a similar situation and this website helped to give me some ideas. Hopefully it can help you out in the future.


  2. Friend.. Avatar

    O M G !
    I was in Puketai with Janelle in September and October and she was the best there. Caring and so, so funny.
    She is seriously not a bad person.

    Love her!


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