Barnardos welcomes recommendations on care of vulnerable children
However, Barnardos Chief Executive Jeff Sanders also says that while the review’s high level recommendations seem solid, getting the details right is equally important in giving at-risk children the good start in life that they deserve.
“We see a great number of strong pathways forward in the review,” says Mr Sanders. “Now, as Minister Tolley says, the hard work really begins as the transformation begins to take shape.”
Barnardos sees the proposed establishment of a new, child-centred operating model for CYF as a positive step, but would also like further emphasis placed on providing a single point of accountability through the creation of a new Minister for Children – as also suggested in the report. This position would be responsible for seeing direct improvements made in the lives of New Zealand’s most vulnerable young people.
“We believe a Government Ministry with a pure focus on creating the best possible New Zealand for all our young people is necessary to give their well-being the attention it deserves,” says Mr Sanders.
Raising the age of state care to 18 (with transition support being considered up to the age of 25) is also seen as a key step forward as the Government looks to address disturbingly high rates of children in CYFs care ending up in the justice system. “There’s no way a child from a difficult background should be cast off on their own at 17,” says Mr Sanders. “So it’s great to see that these young people, and the kind families who take them in, will be getting additional support to help guide youth right through to adulthood.”
Barnardos has long been a champion of listening directly to children’s needs and so sees the establishment of an independent youth advocacy service as another strong initiative that will allow those not yet old enough to vote to have their voices heard. “It’s very important that the panel have already sought to discover how young people view their own lives and experiences,” says Jeff. “It’s important this be carried on to the next stage through the youth advocacy service where we listen to our children and take action based on what they tell us they need.”
“Barnardos agrees wholeheartedly with the report’s statement that all of us as New Zealanders must step forward and claim our vulnerable children as our own. It is that kind of determination that we all need to make the radical changes needed to ensure no child gets left behind or forgotten.”
“We look forward to working with the Government as the recommended changes for CYF are taken to the next stage, and to doing even more to improve life for our most at-risk children.”