Paula Bennett has released the Government’s White Paper. There’s a lot of recommendations in it. Some of them include:
- Introduce a Vulnerable Children’s Bill which includes provisions requiring agencies working with children to place the child’s interests at the centre
- Introduce legislation for Child Abuse Prevention Orders to keep children safe from abusers who pose a risk to children
- Implement integrated care plans for each child in care
- A free “Child Protect” line up and running for the public to report concerns by phone, email, text or online
- Introduce legislation requiring all agencies working with children to have policies and reporting systems in place to recognise and report child abuse and neglect
- Frontline people who work with children (eg doctors, teachers) to be trained to recognise the signs of child abuse
- Introduce legislation, if required, to support greater information-sharing between government agencies and also with Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)
- Implement the Vulnerable Kids Information System, including training for those using the system
- Establish local multi-disciplinary Children’s Teams (CYF,Health, Education, Justice, Police, Housing, TPK) in reach region
- Engage with iwi on the establishment of a national register of approved iwi caregivers
- Investigate extending paid parental leave type support for caregivers providing a Home for Life
- Introduce new obligations for vetting and screening processes, and set minimum standards and core competencies for those working with children
- Introduce legislation to restrict people, in the home and at work, who pose a high risk to the safety of children from living or associating with children, and to provide the right arrangements for safe care of children
- Seek donations from individuals, corporates and other groups for a scholarship fund for vulnerable children
- Commission an independent review of the existing Child, Youth and Family complaints processes to determine whether changes need to be made, including the possibility of establishing an independent complaints mechanism, separate from the Ministry of Social Development
I think there are some very worthwhile initiatives there, especially the Vulnerable Kids Information System. Yes it is Big Brother a bit, but far too many kids are being beaten, abused and killed, because they fall through the gaps.
I predict Labour will try and avoid saying anything at all on the substance, but bleat about “child poverty” as they seem to think that lowering the median household income (which would bring low income families out of poverty as poverty is defined relative to the median income) will solve everything.
Of course poverty is a factor in areas such as child abuse and crime. But we have shown that you can reduce the violence crime rate by getting policies and laws right. Likewise one can do the same with child abuse – however it is much harder as we often do not know they are victims until too late.