Anne Tolley announced:
Social Development Minister Anne Tolley says Cabinet has agreed to major state care reforms and a complete overhaul of Child, Youth and Family to improve the long-term life outcomes for New Zealand’s most vulnerable population.
Good to see bold change. Tinkering won’t be enough.
The overhaul, which is expected to take up to five years to be fully implemented, will include:
A new child-centred operating model with a greater focus on harm and trauma prevention and early intervention. It will provide a single point of accountability for the long-term wellbeing of vulnerable children, with the voice of the child represented in planning and strategy. A social investment approach using actuarial valuations and evidence of what works will identify the best way of targeting early interventions, to ensure that vulnerable children receive the care and support they need, when they need it.
Direct purchasing of vital services such as health, education and counselling support to allow funding to follow the child, so that these young people can gain immediate access to assistance.
A stronger focus on reducing the over-representation of Maori young people in the system. Currently, 6 out of ten kids in care are Maori. Strategic partnerships will be developed with iwi groups and NGOs, and new ways of working effectively will be developed with qualified academics, social service providers, iwi and Whanau Ora.
Legislation will go through Parliament this year to raise the age of state care to a young person’s 18th birthday, with transition support being considered up to the age of 25. Cabinet has also agreed to investigate raising the youth justice age to include 17 year olds.
Legislation will establish an independent youth advocacy service to ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard in the design of systems and services.
Intensive targeted support for caregivers, including some increased financial assistance and better access to support services. For the first time, National Care Standards will be introduced so that there is a clear expectation for the standard and quality of care in placement homes.
If this is done well, and makes a difference, the impact on the community and those affected will be huge.