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Standards will be key to child welfare changes

17 September 2004

Protecting standards will be key to child welfare changes

It will be important not to compromise standards in the move to use community agencies to respond to some cases of child abuse and neglect, says the union which represents the country’s statutory social workers.

Associate Social Development and Employment Minister Ruth Dyson announced plans this week to introduce a ‘differential response model’ which will include using non-government organisations and other bodies to respond to some cases of child abuse and neglect referred to Child, Youth and Family.

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said that enlisting the help of appropriate community agencies could help improve New Zealand’s child protection system, but it will be important to ensure professional standards are maintained irrespective of whether services are delivered by government or non-government agencies.

“The interests of children must continue to be the paramount consideration when determining the role to be played by non-government agencies. These plans should not be seen as a way to lower the costs of child protection services.”

The PSA has been consulted in the development of this policy and has stressed the need to: monitor how the change in the child abuse and neglect intake system impacts on the social work profession, and Child, Youth and Family staff in particular develop professional tools and monitoring processes for use by community agencies, sufficiently resource community agencies so they can professionally develop their own staff.

Richard Wagstaff said the PSA also believes that the investigation of child safety concerns should remain the sole responsibility of statutory social workers.

“The government’s announcement makes it clear that these functions will not be contracted to community agencies. We strongly believe that the investigatory and coercive powers of the state should only ever be exercised by public servants.

“The PSA has expressed our desire to be involved in the development of the new system and will be making a submission to the Social Services Select Committee.”


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