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Call for child abuse inquiry five months too late

31 July 2000 Media Statement

Newman's call for child abuse inquiry five months too late

ACT MP Muriel Newman's call for a review of family placement procedures by the Child, Youth and Family is five months too late, says Social Services and Employment Minister Steve Maharey.

In March the Government appointed respected former Principal Youth Court Judge Mick Brown to conduct two independent reviews into how Child, Youth and Family Services responds to referrals of child abuse or neglect, and places at risk children. Mr Brown is currently working on the reviews and is due to deliver the completed reports to Steve Maharey later this year.

"The Government wants 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.

"As Labour's Opposition spokesperson I was critical of a number of high profile cases in recent years which have rightly caused public concern. Once in Government we moved quickly to determine how the Government can improve public confidence in Child, Youth and Family and to ensure that they make necessary improvements to their practices in child abuse cases.

"The reviews will consider issues relevant to the distressing cases which have come to light in the past fortnight, including placements with extended family members and with whanau, hapu and iwi kin groups.

"ACT MP Muriel Newman's apparent support for the in-process reviews is welcome – if belated.

"I have recently met with Mick Brown and agreed to his suggestion that, because of the significant degree of overlap between the two reviews, he can present them together towards the end of this year rather than sequentially starting in June 2000 as was initially proposed," Steve Maharey said.


Attached are the terms of reference for the review of procedures for referral and notification and the review of procedures for placement.


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.

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.

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