April 13, 2016
Time for a change.
Time for a change.
You have to applaud Dame Paula Rebstock for her warts and all report into the failings of Child Youth and Family and also take your hat off to Minister Anne Tolley’s acknowledgement that the system is broken and needs urgent fixing.
We have known for years that there have been major flaws in CYFs operations.
This is not about having a go at CYFs staff personally, who we know have the child’s best interests at heart. But this is aimed at a system and culture who at times have let ourselves and our children down big time.
We have all been disgusted with stories of children placed into foster care being abused or killed at the hands of caregivers who should have been looking after the child.
I’m sure we can all name a few.
Successive ministers have been quick to blame previous governments or administrations on those institutional failings.
But Tolley has put her hand up and is steadfast that changes will happen under her watch and the department will undergo a major overhaul. The focus should always have been on the child’s needs – not the whanau, who are often the cause of distress.
Part of the new focus will be to work with Maori – whose children make up 60% of vulnerable children or children in care. I applaud this initiative, whether it be Iwi or urban Maori groups.
Whanau Ora providers will hopefully play a major part in setting up new and more robust systems for our vulnerable children. CYFs will soon have the ability to purchase specialist services for the child. That could come via the collectives who are part of the network of the North Island Whanau ora Commissioning Agency Te Pou Matakana.
That’s where I think Maori hold the key and evidence of that is starting to emerge through data collected by these Whanau Ora collectives. For many years now we have been critical of the state’s treatment of our people. We are just sick and tired of being ignored when we offer constructive criticism so it was good to see Paula Rebstock lead this she has had experience working with us in the Urban Maori area and is one of the country’s top bureaucrats.
CYFs by its existence has been a reactionary department, who like police, spring into action when an issue arises. As police will confirm, earlier interventions is key to halting major interventions down the track.
In simple dollar terms, a $1000 injection in 2017 could prevent a $2million incarceration bill in 2027.
The law will be changed for vulnerable children to remain in care until they are at least 18, with the option to remain fully in care until they are 21. That makes sense because disassociated and disenchanted youth may not be ready to be unleashed as young adults on society.
Let’s ensure they have the backup and resources they need so they can make good decisions.
So while I am pleased that major changes are happening, I want to make sure that Maori are at the forefront of solving problems not just be the cause.
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