Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search

 


Govt To Act Immediately On CYF Review

Government To Act Immediately On Mick Brown Review Of Child, Youth And Family

Improving care and protection services for children through Child, Youth and Family is a Government priority, the Minister for Social Services and Employment Steve Maharey said today.

¡§Children who come into or need State care and support deserve and will get effective help,¡¨ said Mr Maharey.

Mr Maharey was commenting on the release today of the Government response to the report by former Principal Youth Court Judge Mick Brown on his reviews of Child, Youth and Family procedures, Care and Protection is about Adult Behaviour: The Ministerial Review of the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services (the Brown Report).

¡§This is a searching and thought provoking report into the Department and the extreme and diverse pressures it works under. The Government has accepted the thrust of the report and is now working to implement the recommendations.

¡§Child, Youth and Family social workers deal with some of the most difficult and at times heart-rending cases that can be imagined. However that is all the more reason for us to ensure the Department has the professionalism and support that it requires.

¡§There is a huge amount to be done in a wide range of areas. Mick Brown¡¦s report provides a clear platform and direction for change.¡¨

The report includes 57 recommendations ranging from the very specific to the very general. Overall they suggest two interconnected approaches for bringing about needed change - increased resources from the Government and changes to the culture and operation of the Department (see attached ¡¥Key points of the Government Response¡¦).

Mr Maharey said the Government has agreed to five areas of immediate action to improve the Department¡¦s performance:

„h the development of a blueprint for the whole care and protection sector;
„h care management;
. . / 2
„h organisational performance and capability;
„h organisational change to support the Department¡¦s performance; and,
„h staff training and development.

Work on the development of the blueprint for the care and protection sector, including devolution of the non-statutory functions of Child, Youth and Family and responsiveness to Maori is already underway.

The Department is in the process of finalising a detailed action plan to implement all the Brown report recommendation. As implementation of key recommendations in the report is largely dependent on 2001 Budget decisions this plan will not be publicly available until the Budget has been presented.

¡§As a Government we are committed to a continuing improvement in social services. The Department¡¦s funding will be reviewed annually, taking into account the external pressures that influence demand for its services.

¡§This year the Government has already made a clear commitment in the Budget Policy Statement to invest in Child, Youth and Family this year so that the Department is able to provide effective service to children and families. Initiatives in this area are well advanced and will be announced when Budget decisions have been made.¡¨

Child, Youth and Family has been working this year on a number of areas to improve its capability, and to reduce the number of unallocated cases in line with the Brown report recommendations.

These include appointing 38 practice managers to provide professional leadership, re-directing existing resources to those areas in greatest need, and working with voluntary sector agencies to establish a more collaborative approach to the management of cases that do not require a statutory response.

Last year the Government invested significant new funds into Child, Youth and Family to build its capacity. New initiatives included:
„h an additional $36million boost to the Department's budget baseline to give it long term financial security and to reverse the precarious financial situation it had been left in the previous Government;
„h funding for an additional 22 social workers;
„h work to introduce a system of professional registration for social workers to ensure safe practice in the social work occupation, protect the public from poor social work practice, and maintain high levels of professionalism and accountability in the social work occupation;
„h a $5.4m injection to enable the Department to purchase additional care for at-risk children; and,
„h a $2.25m package to contract community organisations to run family violence prevention public education programmes.

¡§The Government's goal through these short and long-term actions is that, together with community support, Child, Youth and Family will build the public credibility it deserves to carry out its vital work for those children most in need of our care and protection,¡¨ Steve Maharey said.

Contact: Michael Gibbs, Press Secretary, (04) 471 9154 or (021) 270 9115,
e-mail: michael.gibbs@parliament.govt.nz. The Brown Report will be available on the Ministry of Social Policy website after 12pm at www.msp.govt.nz


Attachments:
1. Key Points of the Government Response
2. Child, Youth and Family Statement
3. Brown Report
4. Terms of Reference
KEY POINTS OF THE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE


Summary

In March 2000, former Principal Youth Court Judge Mick Brown was invited by the Minister of Social Services and Employment, Steve Maharey, to undertake two independent reviews into the procedures of the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services for care and protection referral and notification, and for placement of children and young persons outside their immediate family or caregiving arrangement. On 21 December 2000, Mr Brown presented his report on the reviews, Care and Protection is about Adult Behaviour: The Ministerial Review of the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services (the Brown Report), to the Minister of Social Services and Employment.

The two central themes of the Brown Report are the adequacy of the resourcing allocated to the Department to carry out its statutory functions, and the adequacy of the Department¡¦s performance. The Report includes 57 recommendations that range from the very specific to the very general, but which overall suggest two key and interconnected approaches for bringing about the needed change: increased resourcing from Government, and changes to the culture and operation of the Department.

The Government has agreed to five areas for immediate action to bring about an improved performance by the Department:

1. the development of a blueprint for the whole care and protection sector
2. care management
3. organisational performance and capability
4. organisational change to support the Department¡¦s performance
5. staff training and development

Apart from the development of the blueprint, work on these areas is subject to Budget decisions and is being given priority in 2001/2002 Social Services funding allocations.

Key Themes of the Brown Report

The Brown Report makes clear that the Department of Child, Youth and Family Services is an organisation under pressure, and that consequently children in need of care and protection are not always receiving the referral, notification, and placement services that they require. The two central themes of the Report, reflected throughout its recommendations, are:
„h the adequacy of the resourcing allocated to the Department to carry out its statutory functions; and
„h the adequacy of the Department¡¦s performance.

The Brown Report places these themes in the context of:

„h Developments in the community leading to a greater demand for the Department¡¦s services and external factors beyond the Department¡¦s control that have impacted on its ability to deliver services to the required standard. These include ¡§the emergence of a perpetual cycle of poverty¡¨ (p.100), and, a weakening of ¡§parental authority¡K informal social control¡¨ (p.101), and changes in the target population (p.101).
„h The structural history of the Department, including the impact of multiple restructurings, the low priority given to social work compared with income assistance in Social Welfare over the 1980s and 1990s, and the loss of social work support services at that time (pp.2-3).
„h The impact of the state sector reforms of the late 1980s ¡V ¡§the almost impossible and in some case contradictory demands which fall on the department as well as ... the political, social and legislative context within which the department must operate¡¨(p.98). The Brown Report argues that these have contributed to a ¡§silo mentality¡¨ breaking down interfaces between agencies (p.88); and tension between the reforms¡¦ requirements for managerial reporting and controls and the need for service quality underpinned by professional values.

In the 2001 Budget Policy Statement, the Government made clear that it is committed to putting more resources into the Department to ensure that it has sufficient service capacity to provide effective assistance. The Department, the Ministry of Social Policy and the Treasury are working together to develop a targeted set of initiatives focused on the areas for action that the Brown Report has identified.

The Government considers that funding the Department solely on the basis of demand may not be the most effective way of providing it with the resources required. Demand is the result of demographics, social pressures and other factors such as social work decisions and judgements in individual cases. However the Government is committed to reviewing Child,Youth and Family funding annually, taking into account the external pressures that influence demand for the Department¡¦s services.

FUTURE DIRECTIONS

1. Blueprint for the whole care and protection sector

The Report gives attention to ¡§the dangers of isolation and a lack of a coherent cross sectoral approach¡¨. Recommendation 7.3 asks for work towards developing a blueprint for the care and protection sector that would provide a framework for ¡§a superior service totally focussed on meeting the care and protection needs of children¡¨, made in the context of a firm commitment to community consultation and partnership. Related recommendations are for consideration of further devolution of the Department¡¦s non-statutory functions (7.4) and improved responsiveness to Maori (6.1).

A number of recommendations relate to intersectoral issues that would need to be examined as part of the blueprint development: recommendations 1.2, which asks that ¡§the operationalisation of the CYPF Act be reviewed¡¨; 4.5, which asks for adequate funding and exercising of the Chief Executive¡¦s duties so that all voluntary reporting protocols are actively promoted, and 4.6, which ask that options be investigated for tracking and sharing of information about children at risk.

The Ministry of Social Policy is to lead the development of a blueprint for the whole care and protection sector, working with the Department and in consultation with the other agencies throughout the sector. This is to include consideration of devolution of non-statutory functions to community-based agencies, and responsiveness to Maori.

The blueprint will provide a sound basis for long-term development of care and protection services, making clearer the lines between government and private sector provision and delivery of services. It could act as a focal point for harnessing the current level of sector and public interest in care and protection issues, and encourage a more shared sense of responsibility. The Department is already committed to analysing the further potential for third party delivery of its services. The Department continues to work with community groups, including Iwi Social Services, to build on their capacity to deliver social services.

In relation to two other key issues identified within this area:

„h Promotion of voluntary reporting protocols: The Minister of Social Services and Employment has directed the Ministry of Social Policy and the Department to advise him by mid-year on the ways to ensure voluntary reporting protocols are operating effectively.

„h Tracking and sharing of information on children: The Ministry of Social Policy is to work with Health, Education and other relevant agencies on ways to ensure information can be shared so that children gain timely access to the care and protection services they require. This needs to be completed early in the second half of this year to feed into the blueprint.

2. Care management

The Brown Report emphasises the need to ensure that children are the central focus of care placement and that care management is carried out in accordance with the objectives of the CYPF Act (recommendation 5.1); that assessment, planning and review processes are of a high standard (recommendations 5.2 and 5.5); and that placements are adequately assessed, monitored and supported (recommendations 5.10 and 5.11).

The Department is developing a Care Services Strategy intended to ensure improved co-ordination and oversight of the Department¡¦s care services. It is aimed at getting effective management of children coming into care so that as far as possible they get safe, secure, permanent placements, rather than being placed a number of times.

The current care and protection system focuses on children in need of support up until age 17. Mr Brown in recommendation 5.7 asks that consideration be given to placing 16-year-olds in care with insufficient support within the guardianship of the Chief Executive of Child, Youth and Family and supporting them constructively through their transition to adulthood.

The Minister of Social Services and Employment has directed the Ministry of Social Policy to report to him by September on how this transition can be supported.

The Brown Report draws attention to the current gaps in services to meet the mental health needs among children and young people in care. Recommendations 8.1, 8.2 and 8.4 call for intersectoral planning and clearer funding responsibilities in this area.

Throughout 2000, the Ministry of Social Policy, together with the Ministries of Health and Education has been working on proposals to better cater for children and young people with high and complex needs requiring cross sectoral services. The objective is to extend the ¡¥whole of government¡¦ approaches that are already being applied in the sector to try to break down ¡§silos¡¨.

3. Organisational performance and capability

Unallocated Cases: The most crucial indicator of organisational performance and capability is the reduction of the number of non-allocated care and protection cases referred to the Department. The Brown Report refers to the volume of notifications which exceed the ability of staff and resources to respond in a timely manner, as the greatest risk currently to the assessment process which follows referral/notification (p.60). The Report describes the potential for cases of abuse to escalate due to delays in action on the initial notifications. Recommendation 4.1 of the Report asks that ¡§funding and resources be concentrated on reducing the number of cases by the time set for a response, to zero within the next six months, and that provision be made to ensure that response remains at zero.¡¨

The number of unallocated care and protection cases can be reduced by short-term strategies, such as by re-directing resources to areas in greatest need, and longer term strategies such as the recruitment and retention of additional staff. These longer-term strategies are being considered in the context of the Social Services 2001 Budget allocation. In the interim, the Department of Child, Youth and Family is developing an immediate action plan to reduce the number of unallocated cases through:

„h Re-directing existing resources to those areas in greatest need;
„h Appointing 38 Practice Managers to provide professional leadership;
„h Improved management of staff workloads;
„h Engaging with voluntary sector agencies to establish a more collaborative approach to work that does not require a statutory response. Child, Youth and Family has for example been discussing partnership arrangements with the newly formed Child Protection Action Group (CPAG) to work more closely in the area of child abuse and neglect. CPAG members include Relationship Services, the National Network for Stopping Violence Services, Child Abuse Prevention Service NZ, Women¡¦s Refuge, the Salvation Army Community and Family Services, Presbyterian Support (Central), Plunket and Barnardos.

4. Organisational change to support the Department¡¦s performance

The Brown Report draws attention to the need to ¡§identify those systemic or structural problems which are generating problems in the first instance¡¨ (p.28). In particular, it says that the separation within the Department of the Departmental Output Class (DOC) resources for direct statutory service delivery, such as child abuse investigations, and the Non-Departmental Output Class (NDOC) resources for contracted discretionary service delivery, such as paying non-government agencies for care services, has ¡§made any form of integrated service development troublesome¡¨ (p.26). Recommendation 2.5 asks for one service group covering both DOC and NDOC to achieve greater integration between contracting and direct service delivery. The Department is addressing this through the organisational plan currently being developed.

The Report also identifies a need for monitoring the Department ¡§in order to reassure both public and departmental perceptions¡¨ (p.28). Recommendation 2.1 asks that ¡§an organisation like the ERO be established to monitor performance¡¨, and recommendations 7.1 and 7.2 seek the establishment of a Child Welfare Commission and Community Councils, in particular to provide community monitoring and evaluation of the Department.

While effective monitoring of the Department¡¦s performance and capability for achieving results is essential, the Government has reservations about whether an ERO-like organisation is the way to monitor a government department such as Child, Youth and Family with direct accountability to a Minister.

A number of mechanisms are already in place aimed at ensuring community involvement in decisions on policy and practice. For example, each Child, Youth and Family site has a Care and Protection Resource panel, which provides community involvement and oversight to the care and protection process. At the national level, the Department receives advice from Te Komiti Arai Take Manaaki (the Maori Advisory Committee) and the Pacific Peoples Consulting Group on Maori and Pacific peoples perspectives on service and policy issues.

There may be significant potential to improve the effectiveness of the current monitoring arrangements without adding further complexity to the accountability structure, for example:

„h The functions, powers and independence of the Commissioner for Children are being reviewed and consideration is being given to how they can be enhanced;
„h As more services are devolved to community providers it will be important to ensure that contracts for devolution, especially large contracts, include a requirement and process for outcome evaluation;
„h The Department¡¦s internal audit process could be built on and its internal monitoring and evaluation capacity further developed. The introduction of social work registration is also intended to improve capability in the sector;
„h Audit New Zealand could be asked to sample the quality of the Department¡¦s internal audit function and, in special circumstances, undertake special assurance audits.

To further the Brown report recommendation in this area, the Minister of Social Services and Employment has directed the Ministry of Social Policy to lead a review of the mechanisms for monitoring the performance of Child, Youth and Family to identify how the effectiveness of the current mechanisms can be enhanced and what further improvements or systems may be required. The possible establishment of a Child Welfare Commission and Community Councils could complement these. MSP is to report the Minister of Social Services and Employment on the results of the review later this year.

Communities¡¦ role in monitoring the Department would also be considered in the development of the blueprint for the whole care and protection sector.

5. Staff training and development

The Brown Report raises the quality of social work services provided by the Department as a major concern. Submissions included concerns about staff burnout, high staff turnover, and dissatisfaction from families and judges about the services that staff provided. These issues are reflected in recommendations for increasing competency, improving the recruitment of competent staff, and providing adequate recompense for competent staff. In particular, recommendation 2.9 asks for adequate funding to ¡§revamp the services¡¨ to ensure quality personnel; recommendation 3.3 suggests all social work staff and managers should complete full introductory training; and recommendation 3.4 seeks a Departmental plan within three months for developing a fully skilled social work staff.

Recent decisions on social work registration reflect the Government¡¦s commitment to a fully skilled statutory social work staff. The Minister of Social Services and Employment intends to introduce the Social Workers Registration Bill by July 2001.

Improving professionalism is a complex area. Qualifications of new employees, turnover rates, the pool of available qualified social workers in the community, recruitment ability, and internal training resources are all factors to take into account.
The Government intends to prioritise improved recruitment, retention and development of staff in its Budget considerations. But to respond effectively over the medium term it is also necessary to get a better understanding of the workforce issues affecting the social work sector as whole.

The Minister of Social Services and Employment has directed the Ministry of Social Policy, in consultation with other relevant agencies, to study the workforce issues facing the wider social sector. This is to get a clearer picture of work-force pressure points such as recruitment and retention, where skill shortages exist and what is needed so Child, Youth and Family has adequate staffing to provide quality responses.

APPENDIX 1

TERMS OF REFERENCE:

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:

„h 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;
„h 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;
„h identify the principles and factors that influence decision-making in relation to referrals and notifications, internally and externally;
„h obtain information on barriers to effective response and service delivery in relation to referrals and notifications, with particular reference to Maori;
„h 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;
„h assess the strengths and weaknesses of the current procedures and their capacity;
„h 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;
„h 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.
„h 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.

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:
„h 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;
„h identify the principles and factors which influence decisions about placement;
„h examine the rationale for the placement of Maori children into ¡¨stranger care¡¨ outside of their whanau, hapu and iwi kin groups;
„h obtain information on barriers to effective placement, including funding barriers;
„h assess the strengths and weaknesses of procedures for placement and their capacity;
„h make recommendations for improvements to procedures for placement, including the areas of service delivery, management and funding;
„h 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;
„h 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.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

 

Sector Opposes Bill: Local Government Bill Timeframe Extended

The Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has asked the Select Committee to extend the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). More>>

ALSO:

Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>

ALSO:

Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>

ALSO:

General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Our Posturing At The UN

In New York, Key basically took an old May 2 Washington Post article written by Barack Obama, recycled it back to the Americans, and still scored headlines here at home… We’ve had a double serving of this kind of comfort food. More>>

ALSO:

Treaty Settlements: Bills Delayed As NZ First Pulls Support

Ngāruahine, Te Atiawa and Taranaki are reeling today as they learnt that the third and final readings of each Iwi’s Historical Treaty Settlement Bills scheduled for this Friday, have been put in jeopardy by the actions of NZ First. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Damage De-Regulation Is Doing To Fisheries And Education, Plus Kate Tempest

Our faith in the benign workings of the market – and of the light-handed regulation that goes with it – has had a body count. Back in 1992, the free market friendly Health Safety and Employment Act gutted the labour inspectorate and turned forestry, mining and other workplace sites into death traps, long before the Pike River disaster. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parliament
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news