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Children and young people must be at centre of decisions


Children and young people must be at the centre of decision-making about their wellbeing

Ara Taiohi, as a national body that champions positive youth development with young people, and JustSpeak, a nationwide organisation of young people advocating for justice reform, endorse the push for child-centred systematic change to Child, Youth and Family made today in the Modernising Child Youth and Family Expert Panel Interim Report.

“We encourage the Expert Panel to incorporate a positive youth development approach in the design and ongoing management of the new operating model. Putting children and young people at the centre of the way that services are designed, delivered and evaluated will be the best chance to make a change to complex, fragmented systems and issues,” says Anya Satyanand, Executive Officer of Ara Taiohi.

Evidence shows that for children and young people to thrive they need to have access to dedicated, skilled professionals who are able to walk alongside them in their journey. Ara Taiohi and JustSpeak support the panel’s recommendation that better support, training and development be put in place for everyone working with children and young people in Aotearoa along with the need for more coordinated, interdisciplinary services.

JustSpeak is excited by the recommendation to increase the age that young people stay within the care and protection and youth justice systems to 18 or 21. Young people with a care and protection history are 17 times more likely to end up in the adult prison system and the longer young people can continue to access appropriate services, the more likely they will go on to lead safe and positive crime free lives.

Ara Taiohi strongly supports the proposal to explore the development of an advocacy service for children and young people involved in care and protection and youth justice. “We encourage the Government to engage with the youth development and philanthropic sectors to enable a strong and cohesive body for children and young people in New Zealand. Working collaboratively helps us keep the focus on addressing the big picture and children and young people at the centre of decision-making,” says Anya.

JustSpeak is optimistic about the report’s admission that CYF needs to improve its services to Māori. 6 out of 10 children who come into contact with CYF are Māori and solutions for Māori need to be culturally appropriate. This requires greater resourcing and an extensive commitment from all CYF staff.

Ara Taiohi and JustSpeak believe that a systemic, child-centred approach supported by increased investment, collaboration and assistance from everyone working with children and young people will create the conditions for our most vulnerable children and young people to thrive. We strongly encourage the Government to enable the changes to service provision, legislation and other mechanisms that will facilitate positive, long-term change.


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