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Government Announces More Reforms to Child Protection and Care

September 29, 2016 at 3:36 PM

*From the New Zealand Family Violence Clearing House*

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has announced that more reforms to the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 will be introduced in Parliament by the end of this year.

The announcement detailed some of the proposed changes:

"Legislation will be introduced which proposes new or amended principles to the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 (CYPF Act), and includes:

  • Early intervention to improve the safety and wellbeing of children and young people and address any risk of future harm, to include the voice of the young person in the process and where possible assist parents or guardians to provide a safe, stable home.
  • Where a child is removed and cannot be returned to immediate family, they must be placed with a safe, stable and loving family at the earliest opportunity, and the young person’s views and needs must be included in the planning process. Stability and continuity is important in the placement decisions and where practicable the young people should be placed with siblings, and consideration given to their links to the community.
  • Young people should be placed where they can develop a sense of belonging and attachment, while maintaining personal and cultural identity.
  • A set of National Care Standards which set out the rights and needs of children in care, the standard of care they can expect, and standards for caregiver training, monitoring and support.
  • Financial support for caregivers that is responsive to the changing needs of children."

These changes build on the initial legislative reforms to child and protection servicesand the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, announced earlier this year.

Minister Tolley said “The new operating model, and the new Ministry, is scheduled to get under way in April 2017 and will no longer simply address short-term crisis management. It will have a single point of accountability and will address the long-term needs of children and young people in the care system, focusing on prevention, intensive intervention, care support services, transition support and a youth justice service aimed at preventing offending and reoffending."

The UN Committee that oversees the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child hasrecently questioned whether the current reforms address child poverty and include all children.

Labour Spokesperson on Children Jacinda Ardern has pointed out that these new reforms propose adopting the principles of the covenant promising to protect Aotearoa New Zealand's children "...drawn up by Judge Carolyn Henwood except for a promise 'to strive to provide them [children] with a proper standard of living.' " Ms Ardern said Labour would support putting the entire covenant into law.

In a speech to the Fostering Kids New Zealand Conference about the newly announced reforms, Minister Tolley also said " may be aware that Minister Adams and I have been investigating raising the youth justice age from 17 to 18. We will be taking a paper to Cabinet on this soon." Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft has called for the youth justice minimum age to be raised.

For more information

See the cabinet papers on the Ministry for Social Development (MSD) webpage on the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki and also see the MSD webpage on theInvesting in Children Programme.

See also the previous NZFVC story Government announces major reforms to Child, Youth and Family.

Media sources

Major reforms continue for care and protection, Anne Tolley, Media release, 22.9.2016
New law scraps priority to place abused kids with relatives, NZ Herald, 22.9.2016
Speech to Fostering Kids New Zealand Conference, Anne Tolley, Media release, 22.9.2016
Raise the youth justice age, MPs told at evidence hearing for CYF overhaul, Stuff, 19.8.2016

Category: Legislation