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Mick Brown to review child placement procedures

23 March 2000

Mick Brown to review child referral, notification and placement procedures

Former Principal Youth Court Judge Mick Brown will conduct independent reviews into how the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services responds to referrals of child abuse or neglect, and places at risk children, the Minister of Social Services and Employment, Steve Maharey announced today.

The two reviews would focus on obtaining information on the current procedures administered by Child, Youth and Family for care and protection notification, and for placement of children and young people. The reviews will gather information from and consult with interest groups, community-based professionals, Police, relevant health and education services, the Office of the Commissioner for Children, Maori interests, and also Child, Youth and Family.

“I want to ensure the very best care and protection possible is available to those children and young people who may be suffering from neglect, abuse, or otherwise be at risk.

"The reviews will place a particular focus on the processes the Department uses when dealing with Mäori, reflecting the large number of Mäori who are involved in child care and protection cases, and among children placed in care outside their immediate families.

“I know that Child, Youth and Family social workers and staff work in a most difficult and trying area. However children’s interest groups, community child protection specialists, and the department itself have raised sufficient concerns about responses to care and protection cases and the level of placements for me to seek these reviews so that any necessary improvements can be made.

"There have also been a number of high profile cases in recent years which have caused public concern.

“The terms of reference for the reviews will include placements with extended family members and with whanau, hapu and iwi kin groups.

“They will look at how effective procedures are, assess their strengths and weaknesses and make recommendations on improvements.

. . / 2


"I am delighted that Mick Brown has agreed to undertake these reviews. Mr Brown is a former District Court Judge and was Principal Youth Court Judge. As such, he made a significant contribution to the development of new approaches to offending by young people in New Zealand.

"The reviews will be undertaken sequentially, with the first to be completed by 30 June 2000. Mr Brown and the review team will be provided with management support by the Ministry of Social Policy," Steve Maharey said.


ENDS

Attachments:
Annex 1 – Review Purposes
Annex 2 – Current procedures for referral and notification and for placement
Annex 3 – Biographical information on Mick Brown
ANNEX 1

PURPOSE

1. Review of procedures for referral and notification

The objective of the review is to obtain information about and make recommendations on improvements to the current care and protection referral and notification procedures administered by the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services.
In carrying out the review, the reviewer will:

 obtain information, including stakeholder perceptions, on the operation of the current referral and notification procedures, including current referral and notification patterns and sources, with particular attention to the referral and notification patterns and sources for Maori, the Department’s responses to them;
 obtain information on Departmental casework processes, practices and support systems (procedures, guidelines, instruments, supervision, training), and its capacity to meet demand in relation to referrals and notifications, with particular reference to capacity to meet Maori demand;
 identify the principles and factors that influence decision-making in relation to referrals and notifications, internally and externally;
 obtain information on barriers to effective response and service delivery in relation to referrals and notifications, with particular reference to Maori;
 obtain information on the child abuse referral protocols and community education initiatives with particular emphasis on the processes for dealing with Maori child abuse victims and Maori communities;
 assess the strengths and weaknesses of the current procedures and their capacity;
 make recommendations for improvements to existing processes, service delivery, management and capacity in relation to referral and notifications and the development of new processes for building the capacity of Maori communities;
 report to the Minister of Social Services and Employment, and copy to the Associate Minister of Social Services and Maori Affairs(Social Development), the findings on and assessments of referral and notification procedures, and the recommendations based on these findings and assessments.
 consult with significant stakeholders external to the Department, including Maori, Pacific peoples, community-based professionals, non-government organisations, Police, and relevant health and education services, and with the Department.

2. Review of procedures for placement

The objective of the review is to obtain information and make recommendations on improvements to the current procedures for placement of children outside their immediate family or caregiving arrangement which are administered by the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services.

In carrying out the review, the reviewer will:
 obtain information, including stakeholder perceptions, on the operation of the current procedures for placement of children outside their immediate family, whanau, hapu or iwi including the Department’s capacity and the availability of placement resources;
 identify the principles and factors which influence decisions about placement;
 examine the rationale for the placement of Maori children into ”stranger care” outside of their whanau, hapu and iwi kin groups;
 obtain information on barriers to effective placement, including funding barriers;
 assess the strengths and weaknesses of procedures for placement and their capacity;
 make recommendations for improvements to procedures for placement, including the areas of service delivery, management and funding;
 report to the Minister of Social Services and Employment, and copy to the Associate Minister of Social Services and Maori Affairs (Social Development), the findings on and assessments of procedures for placement, and recommendations based on these findings and assessments;
 consult with significant stakeholders external to the Department, including Maori, Pacific peoples, community-based professionals, non-government organisations, Police, and relevant health and education services, and with the Department.
ANNEX 2

DEPARTMENT OF CHILD, YOUTH AND FAMILY SERVICES: CURRENT PROCEDURES FOR REFERRAL AND NOTIFICATION AND FOR PLACEMENT


Procedures for referral and notification

The Department of Child, Youth and Family Services currently operates the following procedures on being notified of possible care and protection concerns:

(i) Recording of information from the notifier of instances of care and protection concerns;
(ii) Determining through a computer check if any information is already known about the child or person to whom the notification refers;
(iii) Deciding on the type of response required (further action, no further action, or referral to another agency) and, for those requiring further action, the urgency of that response (action within same day, within two days, within seven days, or within 28 days). This takes into account factors such as immediate safety, the seriousness of the current incident, the vulnerability of the child or young person, and the pattern of previous harm and compounding factors such as drug or alcohol abuse or family violence;
(iv) Allocation of the case by a supervisor to a lead social worker, and a co-worker where this is appropriate, depending on the case complexity and severity, and worker experience;
(v) Formulation of an appropriate investigation plan; and
(vi) Commencement of the investigation in a timeframe determined with reference to the urgency allocated to the case. (In some cases, some investigation may occur with procedure (iii), depending on the information received at this stage). Investigations into serious abuse or neglect are undertaken in conjunction with Police under a joint Police and Child, Youth and Family protocol.

At present, procedures (i) to (iii) are carried out by a Call Centre in Auckland for notifications within the Auckland, Northland and Waikato areas, and by a site social worker elsewhere. From July 2000, the Call Centre is to operate nation-wide for all calls, 24 hours per day and seven days a week.


Procedures for placement

At present, placements may occur through:
 Emergency Actions: place of safety warrant, warrant to remove, and Temporary Care Agreements
 Actions through Family Group Conference plans
 Court Orders: custody orders, Interim Custody orders, Guardianship orders, and Extended Care Agreements.
The most commonly used arrangements are Temporary Care Agreements and Extended Care Agreements. These are voluntary and consensual, and result from agreement between social worker and family, or as an outcome from a family group conference.
They require the Department and the family to work in partnership with the aim of reuniting the family and child at home within an agreed timeframe.
ANNEX 3

MICK BROWN


Mick Brown was District Court Judge and Principal Youth Court Judge from 1980 to 1995.

He was Chancellor of Auckland University from 1986 to 1991, is chairman of the Alcohol Liquor Advisory Council and was chairman of the Maori Education Commission.

He has tribal affiliations with Ngati-Kahu, Te Aupori, Te Rarawa, and Ngapuhi.

Last year he was also appointed to the Independent Biotechnology Advisory Council.

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