Ensuring vulnerable children are properly cared for

Column Articles
Tuesday, September 29, 2015

All children deserve to have happy and successful lives. It’s a grim reality that too many are being let down, including in our communities.

You may have heard that Child, Youth and Family (CYF) are undergoing a complete overhaul so that New Zealanders can have confidence that our most vulnerable children will be better protected.

The comes as a recent report highlighted that while new notifications have been falling over the last few years, demand for CYF services has increased as a result of children re-entering the system on multiple occasions.

This shows that the current system is not effective in intervening early to provide the support that these children deserve, so that they don’t need to come back into contact with CYF.

The solution is far from a question of throwing more money at the problem, though funding will be increased if that is required. Rather, the more important question to ask is, “How can we get better results for our children?

CYF will be reshaped to become more child-centred, shifting away from processes and administration, where the voices and needs of children will be at the forefront of everything the agency does.

CYF will invest in targeting earlier intervention to improve the life outcomes for children, which inevitably reduces the future costs for taxpayers.

We’ll allow professional staff to use their judgements and cultural competence to support children based on clear principles, rather than rules, compliance and time-driven practice.

And finally, CYF will engage New Zealanders and communities to provide loving, stable families for vulnerable children.

There is no quick fix over a few days or months. We need a significant shift in thinking together with a comprehensive plan to be rolled out in the years ahead, and this is an exciting start.