Giving children in protection and care a better deal

Columns
Monday, May 2, 2016

There is no doubt outcomes for some children and young people in state care can be terrible. Youngsters can end up with low educational achievement, a reliance on a benefit and have contact, some frequently, with the Youth Justice and Corrections systems.

Recently a Social Development Ministry commissioned panel reviewed our care organisation Child, Youth and Family.  That panel's findings and recommendations have helped form a new care model in which new changes are intended to improve long-term life outcomes for these children.

The new model will have five core services – prevention, intensive intervention, care support, youth justice and transition support and should be in place by March 31, 2017.

 It is however, not being viewed as a quick-fix. There have been 14 restructures in recent times and the system is still not working in the best interests of children hence the introduction of this transformation programme over the next five years.

Another change is as an MP I've often heard concerns  over the age young people leave state care.  As parents and grandparents we wouldn’t ask our 17-year-olds to leave home and we wouldn’t stop giving them advice and support once they left home. 

When a child or young person is taken into care, the state takes on the role of parent and needs to provide that advice and support into early adulthood. We've listened to these concerns  and following the panel’s recommendations the age a young person leaves state care will increase from 17 to 18. 

We will also look to creating a 'right to remain in care up to age 21' with further support up to age 25.

Work is underway to attract a wider pool of quality caregivers and support for those who take on this important role. Government alone cannot solve this long-standing issue; it will take our educational, health and justice professionals together with  families and communities to get this right. 

These children deserve to be heard and have a say in their future and they deserve a system that supports them to achieve and live full lives.  

Finally. we are also working towards developing a new disability strategy  including working towards gthe removal of barriers that limit disabled people, who represent 24 percent of our community, from living a good life and contributing to their communities.

We will be seeking your input towards this though a public campaign that will seek to find what you may consider are the most important areas for change.  Please contribute as we want the new strategy to have a world leading approach.

 

ENDS