The Herald reports:
The Maori Party has opposed the latest legislation to overhaul Child Youth and Family as risking creating a “stolen generation” of Maori children.
Legislation that last night passed its first reading will clear the way for the second stage of major state care reforms that will replace CYF with a new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki.
The law now prioritises placing a child with a member of their family or wider hapu. If that’s not possible, officials must try to place the child with someone of the same tribal, racial or cultural background.
The overhaul says that should happen where practicable and reasonable, but removes the priority and puts emphasis on placing the child in a safe, loving home.
There is empirical evidence the current law is not working. The reason is simple. If a child’s immediate family are so dysfunctional that the child needs to be removed from their care, well it is often the case that the wider extended family also has significant levels of dysfunction.
The current law forces CYF to effectively place within the extended family.
The proposed change does not remove the desire to have a child stay within the extended family. It just makes it a secondary consideration to the overall safety of the child.
Make no mistake the current law has failed miserably. We have the highest levels of child abuse in the world almost and without this change, there will be little improvement.
But look at the hysteria from some MPs:
Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox hit out at that change in her speech in Parliament, saying it undermined the Government’s claims of a “child-centred” approach.
With respect the proposed law change is to make the welfare of the child the first priority.
Green Party MP Marama Davidson labelled the legislation racist.
Wanting children in the safest possible home is racist.
Labour’s spokeswoman for children Jacinda Ardern said removing the priority to place children with whanau or wider hapu was a “massive step backwards”.
Again if the immediate family is dysfunctional the wider family is often dysfunctional also. If they are not dysfunctional then of course the child will go to them, but there have been numerous cases where the neglect has continued.
The current law says that staying within your family and hapu and even race is the most important thing above all others. This is a one size fits all approach. The proposed law says that having the child safe and loved for is the most important thing above all others. Often there will not be a conflict between the two, but sometimes there is, and when there is you should do what is best for the child.