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PHA salutes OCC report but says more must be done

PHA salutes OCC report but says more must be done to prevent children becoming vulnerable in the first place

Public Health Association media release, 27 August 2015

The Public Health Association (PHA) congratulates Russell Wills and the Office of the Children’s Commissioner’s on the first State of Care Report released today on the service Child Youth and Family (CYF) provides to our most vulnerable children. However the PHA says we must not lose focus on the social issues that underlie why children are taken into care in the first place and that, as a society, we must be much more willing to invest in measures that prevent harms to children from occurring.

“Commissioner Wills has shown great courage in producing this report and we share its concerns and recommendations,” said PHA Chief Executive Warren Lindberg.

“While we suggest there is more that can be done, we believe the report presents a much needed children-centred focus and see it is a major step in the right direction.”

He said the PHA is heartened and agrees that there is much in the way of ‘excellent practice’ occurring, but that CYF’s over-all lack of a clear outcomes-focused strategy was disturbing.

“We understand the importance of safety for children in urgent need of protection. However, we are troubled at what seems to be lack of planning for good outcomes for children in care and that our systems are not focused on ensuring children are better off as a result of state intervention.

“What is particularly concerning is the larger proportion of Maori children in state care and the lack of cultural capability to adequately ensure good outcomes and meet children’s cultural needs.”

However, Lindberg stressed that the biggest challenge is for society to tackle the issues that make children need state care and intervention at all.

“We’re talking issues such as intergenerational violence, inadequate housing, financial hardship, addiction, poor mental health and a lack of extended family/whanau support.

“A recent Cabinet report found only 10 percent of $1.4 billion was spent on interventions for family and sexual violence, of which just 1.5 percent was spent on prevention. We tend to focus on what happens after the fact and need to increase investment in preventative measures that will keep children and young people out of state care in the first place.

“We need to better understand the reasons why so many kids are unsafe and be much more willing to address the difficult issues that put families under strain and lead to children suffering. This is a challenge for the whole of society and not something that should be left to CYF alone.”



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