Children's Commissioner publishes monitoring report on Child, Youth and Family

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The Office of the Children's Commissioner (OCC) has published a report, State of Care 2015. The report is based on its independent monitoring of Child, Youth and Family’s policies, practices and services.

The report looks at how well children in care are doing according to available data on measures of wellbeing, including health, education and justice outcomes. It includes feedback from children and young people about their experiences in the system.

OCC summarises what they learnt from the monitoring as follows:

  • "Issues of workforce capacity and capability mean practice is not consistent
  • Child, Youth and Family is not sufficiently child-centred
  • Child Youth and Family do not know if children are better off as a result of their intervention as they are not measuring outcomes reliably, and
  • Alongside children’s immediate safety, CYF needs to focus on improving their outcomes."

The OCC makes 53 recommendations, and summarises what needs to change as follows:

  1. "Set clear expectations about CYF’s core purpose and the outcomes it needs to achieve;
  2. Ensure CYF is fully child-centred in all its activities;
  3. Invest more in on-going support for children in all types of care placements;
  4. Address capacity and capability issues across the CYF workforce;
  5. Improve cultural capability across the organisation;
  6. Collect and analyse relevant data to drive improved outcomes for children; and
  7. Set clear expectations for other state agencies responsible for improving the outcomes of children in care."

Children's Commissioner Russell Wills said "Our analysis is that Child, Youth and Family is very focused on keeping children safe and managing the intake and assessment processes at entry to the system. They’ve lost sight of what children need while in care and what they need to receive to ensure they thrive once they’ve left. That concerns me."

He also said "We’ve been surprised by the difficultly in accessing information about the outcomes for these children. The data we have seen is concerning. In education for example, children in care are falling way behind, with just 20 percent achieving NCEA level 2, compared to the national average of 70 percent." For Māori children in care, the figure was 15 percent.

UNICEF NZ National Advocacy Manager Deborah Morris-Travers said "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."

Kathrine Clarke, Manager of Māori SUDI (Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy) prevention programme Whakawhetu said, "Māori kids in CYF care talk about the importance of cultural activities. Immersing tamariki Maori in Maori culture generates tangible and positive change."

The Government established a panel to lead a "complete overhaul" of Child, Youth and Family in April 2015. Russell Wills said he hoped the report's recommendations would support the panel in their work. Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said "The panel delivered its high-level business case for change earlier this month, and this will go to Cabinet in the next few weeks along with a paper outlining the next steps. I plan to release both documents after Cabinet approval. A detailed business case is being developed by the expert panel and will be delivered by December 2015."

The OCC's report follows the release of the final report of Confidential Listening and Assistance Service earlier this week. This report into the treatment of children in state care during the 50 years leading up to 1992 found many children were subjected to brutal violence, neglect and emotional, verbal and sexual abuse.

On 23 July 2015, a Bill to make registration mandatory for social workers was introduced to Parliament, after being pulled from the Member's Ballot

This is the OCC's first public 'State of Care' report. They will publish another State of Care report in 2016.

Related reports

Office of the Chief Social Worker (2014). Workload and case work review: qualitative review of social worker caseload, casework and workload management.

Broad, H. (2013). Review of Child, Youth and Family complaints system: Report to the Minister of Social Development.

Media

State care petition taken to Parliament, Radio NZ, 10.12.2015

Anne Tolley supports campaign to raise age of Foster Care, Press Release: We Don't Stop Caring, Scoop, 10.12.2015

Former foster child driven by upbringing, NZ Herald, 02.12.2015

Family Violence: New Zealand's dirty little secret, Voxy, 29.11.2015

Opinion: Broken system breaks our children, The Southland Times, 22.10.2015

Tolley continues to ignore serious concerns, Press Release: NZ First Party, Scoop, 21.10.2015

Making a difference for children in state care, Barnardos, 02.10.2015

Dunne Speaks: What to do about Child Abuse, Press Release: United Future NZ Party, 10.09.2015

PSA concerned after CYFs Head resigns, NewsTalk ZB, 09.09.2015

CYF private sector involvement 'would take us back 100 years', Radio NZ, 07.09.2015

Nicola Young: Children at risk deserve more, Wanganui Chronicle, 06.09.2015

Serious breaches at youth corrections facility, Radio NZ, 06.09.2015

Campaign to raise cut-off age for state care, Radio NZ, 05.09.2015

Security breaches rife at youth facility, 3News, 05.09.2015

Dangerous environment supports Commissioner’s report, Press Release: Labour Party, Scoop, 05.09.2015

Govt 'covering up' abuse at CYF facility: Labour, NewsTalk ZB, 05.09.2015

Frank Greenall: CYF - ongoing train crash, Wanganui Chronicle, 03.09.2015

Lifewise teams up with agencies to raise age of state care, Voxy, 03.09.2015

CYF Systemic Failure Due to under-Resourced Services, Press Release: Mothers Helpers, Scoop, 03.09.2015

Anton Blank: Maori bias colours CYF decisions, NZ Herald, 03.09.2015

Abuse in state care 'hurts forever', Stuff, 01.09.2015

Challenging State Imposed Abuse, Te Whareporahou, 31.08.2015

Opposition outraged at possibility of CYF privatisation, NewTalk ZB, 31.08.2015

Privatising CYF about ideology not care - Little, Voxy, 31.08.2015

Key: Private sector involvement in CYF possible, Radio NZ, 31.08.2015

Special report: A child abuse solution beyond CYF, NZ Herald, 31.08.2015

How we can save vulnerable kids, NZ Herald, 30.08.2015

Interview: Judge Carolyn Henwood & Russell Wills, The Nation, 29.08.2015

More support required to help kids in need, says Children's Commissioner, NZ Herald, 29.08.2015

The state of child protection in New Zealand, Article: Paora Moyle, Scoop, 29.08.2015

School principal: CYF workers burned out, Northern Advocate, 29.08.2015

Terry Sarten: Voices of vulnerable young people must be heard, Wanganui Chronicle, 29.08.2015

'State of Care' report timely for the Government, Otago Daily Times, 29.08.2015

Damning report paves way for CYF redesign, NZ Herald, 29.08.2015

Address underlying causes of child neglect and abuse to keep children safe, Child Poverty Action Group, 28.08.2015

CYF must adopt a Whanau Ora approach, Press Release: Te Pou Matakana, 28.08.2015

Greens: Don't privatise CYF, 3 News, 28.08.2015

Editorial: Fixing failures with CYF kids will be costly, Dominion Post, 28.08.2015

CYFs report - Too much talk - not enough walk, Press Release: Big Buddy, Scoop, 28.08.2015

'Staggering link' between CYF care and crime, Radio NZ, 28.08.2015

Editorial: CYF reforms can't come soon enough, NZ Herald, 28.08.2015

Damning CYF report widely backed, Hawke's Bay Today, 28.08.2015

CYF neglect highlights Whanau Ora need, Waatea News, 28.08.2015

Whanau-focused solutions 'key for tamariki Maori, Voxy, 27.08.2015

Incarceration rate for Maori children stands out, Press Release: Anton Blank, Scoop, 27.08.2015

Minister vows to get CYF overhaul right, Radio NZ, 27.08.2015

Children's Commissioner's report highlights need for better state care for Māori, Māori Television, 27.08.2015

Government blamed for CYF's failings, NZ City, 27.08.2015

Urgent Action Needed for Children in Care, Press Release: Māori Women's Welfare League, 27.08.2015

Child abuse: NZ's national shame, Story, 27.08.2015

Resources, money isn't the issue for CYF cases – Tolley, 3 News, 27.08.2015

Extended interview: Children's Commissioner Russell Wills, Story, 27.08.2015

Seven Years on And National is in No Rush to Help Children, Press Release: NZ First Party, Scoop, 27.08.2015

Children living in state care 'not cared about' - Children's Commissioner, Stuff, 27.08.2015

Children in state care are being abused and CYF is failing them - report, Stuff, 27.08.2015

CYFs state must not be used to justify privatisation - Greens, Voxy, 27.08.2015

Whanau-focused solutions 'key for tamariki Maori', Voxy, 27.08.2015

Gordon Campbell on the Children’s Commission report on CYF, Article: Gordon Campbell, Scoop, 27.08.2015

Human Rights Commission welcomes CYFS review, Press Release: Human Rights Commission, Scoop, 27.08.2015

State of Care Report 2015 –SSPA, Press release: SSPA, 27.08.2015

Children's Commissioner releases first State of Care report, Press release: Office of the Children's Commissioner, Scoop, 27.08.2015

State of Care' report comes at an important time, Press release: UNICEF, Scoop, 27.08.2015

Minister welcomes State of Care report, Press release: Anne Tolley, Scoop, 27.08.2015,

Children abused in CYF care, Stuff, 27.08.2015

Kids probably no better off in state care, Radio NZ, 27.08.2015

Children living in state care 'not cared about' - Children's Commissioner, Stuff, 27.08.2015  

Damning report reveals 117 kids abused in CYFS care last year, TVNZ, 27.08.2015

Putting love in the care equation, Otago Daily Times, 27.08.2015  

Children's Commissioner slates CYF care, 3News, 27.08.2015

Greens slam CYFS 'dump and run' culture, TVNZ, 27.08.2015

Save the Children NZ Welcomes Report, Press release: Save the Children, 27.8.2015  

CYF care panned by Children's Commissioner, NZCity, 27.08.2015

PHA salutes OCC report but says more must be done, Press release: Public Health Association, Scoop, 27.08.2015   

Report highlights continued underfunding of CYF, Press release: Public Service Association, Scoop, 27.08.2015 

State of Care Report, Press Release: Ministry of Social Development, 27.08.2015