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State of Care’ report comes at an important time

‘State of Care’ report comes at an important time, says UNICEF NZ

The ‘State of Care 2015’ report released by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner contributes valuable insights into the improvements needed within the care, protection, and youth justice systems so that all 5,000 of our nation’s most vulnerable children have a chance to thrive and succeed in life.

“Today’s report points to a raft of opportunities for Child, Youth and Family leadership and staff – in partnership with other government agencies and communities – to ensure that children coming into the care of the State have their rights to health, education, protection and cultural identity upheld, therefore delivering significantly improved outcomes, said UNICEF NZ National Advocacy Manager, Deborah Morris-Travers.

“The report also points to a range of systemic and practice issues that mean the State’s care of children is not optimal and may even be damaging children.

“It goes without saying that a child taken into State care should never be worse off as a result of that care. But ensuring the long-term wellbeing of children who may have been traumatised by abuse and neglect, or who have committed an offence, requires skilled, coordinated input by social workers, teachers, health professionals and others.

“The State of Care report suggests the State, as a ‘corporate parent’, is currently failing to provide this,” Ms Morris-Travers added.

Among the concerns identified by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s CYFs monitoring team, are issues of leadership, effective social work practice, capacity, cultural capability, coordination with other agencies, ensuring a child-centred approach that enables children to be heard, data collection and monitoring.

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The report identifies the strength in CYFs practice when initial investigations and assessments of risk and need are made, but highlights a lack of focus on working with children to ensure those needs are met through good quality social work and case management.

Ms Morris-Travers added, “It’s positive to see that CYF has strong intake and initial assessment processes, designed to keep children safe. This is important, but good practice cannot stop at the front end of the system. Running through this report is a sense that the system, and some of the staff working within it, are not child-centred.

“We welcome the report published today and support its recommendations. It comes at a time when the Government is reviewing Child, Youth and Family, so we hope it will inform future efforts to improve the impact of the State’s care for children.

“In addition to the 53 recommendations contained in the report, UNICEF NZ recommends that the Government invest more in the Office of the Children’s Commissioner to strengthen its monitoring of Child, Youth and Family. These issues are too important to be left to chance,” concluded Ms Morris-Travers.

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