Transformational changes are coming to vulnerable children and youth
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The much anticipated final report on Child Youth and Family, Investing in New Zealand’s Children and Families has been released and it signals major state care reforms, along with a complete overhaul of Child, Youth and Family to improve the long-term life outcomes for New Zealand’s most vulnerable children and youth.
NZCCSS is currently reviewing the report and accompanying Cabinet papers that set the detail on what the new operating model will look like.
The final report comprises a sweeping list of recommendations for a new child-centred system. As part of this is a ‘package of reforms’ that is expected to take up to five years to be fully implemented. The package will include:
A new child-centred operating model with a greater focus on harm and trauma prevention and early intervention.
A social investment approach using actuarial valuations and evidence of what works will identify the best way of targeting early interventions.
Direct purchasing of vital services such as health, education and counselling support to allow funding to follow the child, so that young people can gain immediate access to assistance.
A stronger focus on reducing the over-representation of Maori young people in the system. Strategic partnerships will be developed with iwi groups and NGOs.
Legislation this year raising 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 17.
Legislation establishing 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.
National Care Standards will be introduced so that there is a clear expectation for the standard and quality of care in placement homes.
The system will focus on five core services:
care support services,
transition support and
a youth justice service aimed at preventing reoffending.
Finally, the delivery of these services will require a suitably trained workforce, with a requirement for a greater range of specialist skills, to better prevent harm and trauma.