The Ministry of Social Development and the Ministry of Health are jointly reviewing the way in which children with severe disabilities are placed in voluntary out-of home care under the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989 (Section 141 or 142). These agencies have produced a clearly written consultation document that is accompanied by a range of videos (some in sign language) to ensure everyone is included in the engagement process. The review focuses on what changes are needed to ensure severely disabled children have the same rights as other children to live in a family environment and, if they are unable to live with their own family, provide an effective system that:
- works in the best interest of the disabled child
- ensures that the disabled child’s best interest is always at the centre of decision-making about where they live
- ensures the right safeguards are in place to protect the interests of the disabled child, and they are not treated in a way that disadvantages them because of their disability
- supports the disabled child to have a say and participate in decision-making.
It is always heartening when children with severe disabilities receive attention. Their lives and that of their family and whānau are faced with multiple challenges, along with all the joy and hope that life brings. One positive aspect of the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 is that it does require government agencies to improve the lives of our most vulnerable children. Whilst there are many definitions and thresholds of vulnerability, there can be no doubt that the children included in the scope of this review tick all the boxes. It’s great to see this group of children at the centre, for once.
Submissions close on 29 May 2015. For more information go to the MSD website.