The Ministry for Children has apologised to a caregiver who was forced to give up being a foster parent over a lack of support and says, "the system broke me".
Increasing numbers of foster parents are quitting as more than 6,000 vulnerable children across the country are in care or in need of care, the highest number ever.
Three-and-a-half years ago four foster kids came into an Auckland home. Now they're all gone, the strain of looking after them too much for their foster mother.
"I just got tired, worn down, broken. But it wasn't really the children, it was the system that broke me. They system, because there's no help there," said the woman, who 1 NEWS has chosen not to identify.
She quit her job to look after the foster children she says had multiple problems.
"The two little ones that came in were absolutely terrified of the bath. I used to cry giving them a bath because I used to think what has happened to these children for them to be so scared of water," said the foster mother, crying.
She says she requested help from The Ministry for Children, Oranga Tamariki, but it never came.
We removed them from their parents, we owe them the very best that we can deliver- Linda Surtees, Fostering Kids New Zealand chief executive
Struggling, in March she reluctantly asked for a break from caregiving.
Fostering Kids New Zealand chief executive Linda Surtees says children in care have been under-resourced and neglected for quite some time.
Fostering Kids New Zealand has been supporting caregivers for 40 years.
It says caregivers are quitting in big numbers because they're getting fewer resources than ever to look after the children.
"We removed them from their parents, we owe them the very best that we can deliver," Ms Surtees said.
The number of children in care has risen by over 1,000 since 2013 and in that time the number of caregivers has only risen by 400.
Oranga Tamariki says it's keeping an eye on that trend, acknowledging it does need more caregivers.
In the meantime it says it's working on giving more resources to those currently looking after children.
"There is absolutely more to do and that's the process that we're on as an agency, really being able to deliver more for our caregivers," said Peter Whitcombe of Oranga Tamariki.
The ministry has apologised to the mother for what she has experienced.
"If the support was there it would be easier to look after these children. They aren't easy to look after but they are easy to love," she said.
Now she's offering to get the kids back, on the condition the ministry offers them more support.