The Wellbeing Budget

Improving child wellbeing

Breaking the cycle for children in State care, part 1

If all New Zealand's children are to do well, we must do more to stop our most vulnerable from falling through the cracks. More than a quarter of children in care have at least one parent who was themselves in care. Breaking the generational cycle of child harm requires intervention at the earliest possible point and better support for children in care so they can recover and live the lives they deserve.

The Wellbeing Budget targets investment towards children at serious risk and in the most need of help, providing the very best care and support through a new Oranga Tamariki as we transform the broken Child, Youth and Family (CYF) model.

The Budget package includes:

  • more money to support Oranga Tamariki to meet the new care standards and an extra 350 frontline roles, including more social workers to ease caseloads
  • a new intensive intervention service that will work with families to keep children safe at home
  • more money for non-government organisations (NGOs) providing early intervention services
  • investment to ensure children in care get the specialist support they need to help them achieve at school and in life, like toys, books, laptops, sports equipment and specialist health resources
  • 60 extra dedicated support roles for caregivers and new specialised training for all caregivers
  • new Whānau Care Partnerships to attract more Māori caregivers
  • 16 new, small community-based homes for 100 additional youth justice placements so that young people in the youth justice system can get education, training and rehabilitation closer to their families and communities
  • a new service to support 3,000 young people to prepare for, and transition successfully from, care and youth justice to adulthood.

A new approach

At 31 March this year, 6,400 children and young people were in State care. This shouldn't be the case in a country like New Zealand.

"We have known about this problem for a long time. Children have not had anything like the system they deserve," Minister for Children Tracey Martin says.

"In 2015, the Expert Advisory Panel on Modernising Child, Youth and Family advised the Government that New Zealand's most vulnerable children needed a new, child-centred agency that would lead the change to a completely different care, protection and youth justice system."

"The Wellbeing Budget starts to deliver that new child-focused system. The Oranga Tamariki that was envisaged by the Expert Advisory Panel can start to be built.

"Looking after children is for the most part about families and communities. But when government help is needed, the system should enable people like foster carers, social workers, iwi and NGOs to provide quality help.

"Children in care have not had a great start to their lives and in the past they have been served by a second class system. We want them to have the support they need to live like any other Kiwi kids."

The Wellbeing Budget focuses on five areas that are being built and strengthened to prevent harm, lift standards for children and young people in care, and then better prepare them to move out of care and into adulthood.

"When all of these components are in place, fewer children will enter State care, and those in care will be better supported."

Intensive and early intervention

A new Intensive Intervention service will use new, highly skilled, family/whānau intensive support workers to work with families and whānau of children most at risk of entry or re-entry into State care to support them to remain safely at home.

"This is about breaking the cycle of harm and reducing the number of children who are removed from their families," Tracey Martin says.

"For the first time, Oranga Tamariki will be able to trial this new approach to keeping children safely with their families and stopping the flow into the care system,"

This new partnered approach will be rolled out to five Oranga Tamariki sites or areas covering around 150 families and 400 children in its first year.

In addition, the Budget provides $26.7 million over four years for the Ministry's NGO partners currently providing early intervention services.

Children playing with a tin can phone.

Improved care

New National Care Standards come into force on 1 July 2019. For the first time, New Zealand's State care system will have explicit legal standards around the experience children in care can expect to have and the support that those looking after children in care can expect to receive. Lifting the standards of care for our children is being funded by an extra $524.7 million over the next four years.

We're also investing in extra capacity, with an extra 350 frontline roles including social workers, and more caregivers and improved support for caregivers.

"New National Care Standards will let children in care and their caregivers know what to expect and what is required. This new funding will help provide it. Those in care have said they want to see their social workers more and more social workers will help with that."

As part of this transformation, $70 million will go towards better meeting the needs of the individual children in care by looking at all their needs and putting plans for this in place. This will ensure children receive the help they need to do well at school, be healthy and connect within their communities. Resources like toys, books, laptops, sports equipment and specialist health services, as well as opportunities to participate in community and cultural events, will be supported.

Our care system would not exist without our remarkable and dedicated caregivers. We're acknowledging the work they do by providing them more help, including respite support. An extra 60 dedicated support roles for caregivers will include caregiver social workers. We'll also provide new specialised training for all caregivers, including for those who have children with high behavioural needs.

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