First child protection reform Bill passes third reading
Wed 14 Dec 2016
One of the Bills implementing the Government's reforms to child protection has passed its third reading in Parliament and received Royal Assent. ...
One of the Bills implementing the Government's reforms to child protection has passed its third reading in Parliament and received Royal Assent. The Act comes into force on 1 April 2017.
The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Advocacy, Workforce, and Age Settings) Amendment Act 2016 includes provisions enabling the Chief Executive to delegate powers in relation to child protection services which have previously only able to be delegated to social workers.
Labour's Acting Children's Spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni said they welcomed the legislation raising the age that young people are able to remain in care to 18, a provision which was widely supported.
However Ms Sepuloni also said:
"... this Bill also contained a dangerous set of provisions, which allows the Chief Executive to delegate powers that can currently only be performed by qualified CYF social workers. These powers include the ability to investigate child abuse claims, and the statutory removal of children. Parliament will have no say over who the powers go to, or how they are being used. We consistently asked the Minister to explain to us who she wanted to give these powers to and why. At no stage did she give an example of the kind of professions, or contract holders, she would want to see holding the job of removing children. We’re all still completely in the dark. We tried to remove this section of the Bill at committee stage but, unfortunately, were unsuccessful. With these sweeping powers still intact, we had no choice but to vote against the Bill."
Critics have suggested the move opens the way to privatising statutory child protection and care. The possibility of private companies such as prison operator Serco running social services for children has previously been raised.
The report from the Social Services Committee is available online.
For more information, see the previous NZFVC news story:
In November 2016, the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) published information on their website about the development of the service and practice model that will replace Child, Youth and Family services.