Government announces reforms to Child, Youth and Family

Fri 08 Apr 2016

The Government has announced its initial plans for "major state care reforms and a complete overhaul of Child, Youth and Family" in response ...

The Government has announced its initial plans for "major state care reforms and a complete overhaul of Child, Youth and Family" in response to the final report of the Expert Advisory Panel on Modernising Child, Youth and Family.

The Government released the Final Report of the Expert Panel on 7 April 2016. The report outlines a new operating model for CYF as well as policy and legislation changes, financial investment and implementation approaches. The report includes 81 recommendations.

Minister Tolley said the Government was announcing its initial response to some of the panel's recommendations. She said the model will be in place by March 2017 and will focus on five core services: prevention, intensive intervention, care support services, transition support and a youth justice service aimed at preventing offending and reoffending.

The new model is intended to create a "single point of accountability" for a number of services for children. An "actuarial valuation model" looking at long term outcomes for children will be developed to help guide government spending.

The model gives the government agency a broader focus than CYF currently has, including early intervention, recognising trauma and the transition into early adulthood. In addition, the agency will be able to purchase services for children direct from other government agencies and non-government organisations.

The structure of the agency is still in development and the Ministry of Social Development and the State Services Commission will report back on a proposed structure in May 2016.

Other changes include expanding the range of professionals who work under the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act, a campaign to recruit and support caregivers, the development of a new youth advocacy service, and increasing the age of children who receive care.

The Office of the Children's Commissioner will still provide monitoring, but more work is being done to review this role. The Vulnerable Children's Board will also be expanded.

The entire package of changes is expected to take up to five years to implement and will include:

  • "A new child-centred operating model with a greater focus on harm and trauma prevention and early intervention. It will provide a single point of accountability for the long-term wellbeing of vulnerable children, with the voice of the child represented in planning and strategy.
  • A social investment approach using actuarial valuations and evidence of what works will identify the best way of targeting early interventions, to ensure that vulnerable children receive the care and support they need, when they need it.
  • Direct purchasing of vital services such as health, education and counselling support to allow funding to follow the child, so that young people can gain immediate access to assistance.
  • A stronger focus on reducing the over-representation of Maori young people in the system. Currently, 60 per cent of children in care are Maori. Strategic partnerships will be developed with iwi groups and NGOs.
  • Legislation this year raising the age of state care to a young person’s 18th birthday, with transition support being considered up to the age of 25. Cabinet has also agreed to investigate raising the youth justice age to 17.
  • Legislation establishing an independent youth advocacy service to ensure that the voices of children and young people are heard in the design of systems and services."

Responses to the announcement are in the media coverage below.


Dr Leonie Pihama, University of Waikato Associate Professor and director of Te Kotahi Research Institute, is questioning the ability of the new CYF approach to meet the needs of Māori. Leonie referred to a 1988 review of the then Department of Social Welfare, Puao-te-ata-tu: The Report of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on a Maori Perspective for the Department of Social Welfare which highlighted the need for structural change to address institutional racism. She points out that the issues of institutional racism identified in this previous review have not been addressed and the current review does not mention racism nor does it advocate any structural change or kaupapa Māori approaches. In her interview, Dr Pihama said “within Puao Te Ata Tu they were really advocating a much stronger structural change, where we question the foundations of a system that assumes the right of the state to take control of the lives of Māori children and take control of the lives of whānau Māori.”

Background information

The Panel, established in 2015 by Social Development Minister Anne Tolley, released an interim report on Child, Youth and Family in 2015. The report, Modernising Child, Youth and Family, concluded that the system as a whole was not effectively delivering for vulnerable children and would require a new operational model.

Additional information

A number of supporting documents have been released with the report including:

The Future of Child Protection and Care: Fact sheet

The Future of Child Protection and Care: Question and Answer

Indicative Timeline for 2016-2018

Cabinet Overview - Final Report of the Modernising CYF Expert Panel: Proposed Blueprint for Reform and Implementation

Cabinet Paper One - Final Report of the Modernising CYF Expert Panel: The New Operating Model

Cabinet Paper Two - Final Report of the Modernising CYF Expert Panel: Policy and Legislation


Putting the safety of children first, NZ Herald, 06.06.2016

Railside Dairy Killer: CYF admit failings, NZ Herald, 04.06.2016

'Rolls Royce' interventions for NZ's most vulnerable children, One News, 28.05.2016

Youth justice age of 17 'enduring stain' on New Zealand's otherwise good record, Stuff, 12.05.2016

CYF review must better address Maori says researcher, Radio NZ, 03.05.2016

Opinion - Terry Sarten: Fighting for child safety tough but imperative, Wanganui Chronicle, 30.04.2016

“CYF is gone” - The public has yet to grasp the scale of National's overhaul of CYF, The Listener, 21.04.2016

CYF 'racist' says Tariana Turia, Radio NZ, 19.04.2016

Opinion - Elspeth McLean: Is it really about lack of information, Anne?, Otago Daily Times, 13.04.2016

Opinion - Willie Jackson, Manukau Courier, Stuff, 13.04.2016

CYF reform can help kids: Agencies, Bay of Plenty Times, 13.04.2016

Marlborough man supports extension to age of care as part of Child, Youth and Family changes, Stuff, 13.04.2016

We have failed our disabled children, Press Release: Human Rights Commission, Scoop, 12.04.2016

Opinion - Chris Trotter: Child, Youth and Family changes may be far reaching for Maori, Stuff, 11.04.2016

Government's 'social investment' promise empty -- Greens, Newshub, 10.04.2016

Opinion - Stacey Kirk: About time children's rights came first, Stuff, 10.04.2016

Teens as old as 19 could be dealt with by Youth Court under cabinet proposal, NBR, 10.04.2016

Govt to consider raising Youth Court age, Radio NZ, 09.04.2016

Tolley not ruling out caregiver payrise in CYF overhaul, Stuff, 09.04.2016

Shake-up of government child services welcomed by support provider, One News, 09.04.2016

Potential to make a difference, Otago Daily Times, 09.04.2016

South Canterbury women's refuge welcomes proposed CYF reforms, The Timaru Herald, 09.04.2016

Govt child care plan mightily impressive, The Southland Times, 09.04.2016

CYF steps up, what about the rest?, Press Release: Child Poverty Action Group, Scoop, 08.04.2016

Child-centred approach to vulnerable children welcomed, Press Release: Social Service Providers Aotearoa, Scoop, 08.04.2016

PSN welcomes radical changes in care and protection services, Press Release: Presbyterian Support, Scoop, 08.04.2016

Youth Justice must not be left out of the CYF overhaul, Press Release – JustSpeak, Scoop, 08.04.2016

Keep children at heart of CYF changes, says former state ward, Radio NZ, 08.04.2016

CYF overhaul 'could make the system worse', Radio NZ, 08.04.2016

'Super-CYF' ready for numbers, NZ Herald, 08.04.2016

Age of state care raised in major Child Youth and Family overhaul, One News, 07.04.2016

The future of child protection and care, Speech: Social Development Minister Anne Tolley, 07.04.2016

PSA calls for greater transparency around CYF Review, Press Release: Public Service Association, Scoop, 07.04.2016

Save the Children commends new child-centred approach, Press Release: Save The Children, Scoop, 07.04.2016

Vulnerable children deserve this radical change, Press Release: Office of the Children's Commissioner, Stuff, 07.04.2016

CYFS changes should not overshadow the funding crisis, Press Release: Green Party, Scoop, 07.04.2016

Finally an equal right for children with disabilities, Press Release: IHC, 07.04.2016

Recommendations on care of vulnerable children welcomed, Press Release: Barnardos, 07.04.2016

Māori top priority in state care reforms - minister, TVNZ, 07.04.2016

Child Youth and Family set for major overhaul, NewstalkZB, 07.04.2016

'Who kicks their child out at 17?' - Govt raises age of care amid radical overhaul of CYF, Stuff, 07.04.2016

CYF overhaul: Five years to address failures with vulnerable children, One News, 07.04.2016

CYF to get 'complete overhaul', Newshub, 07.04.2016

New plan for children in care unveiled, Radio NZ, 07.04.2016

Q+A: What does the CYF overhaul mean for vulnerable Kiwi children?, Stuff, 07.04.2016

Five things you need to know about the CYF overhaul, Newshub, 07.04.2016

CYF overhaul plans unveiled, Radio NZ, 07.04.2016

More protection for young in CYF overhaul, Otago Daily Times, 07.04.2016

CYF changes not fast enough, ex-foster child says, Radio NZ, 07.04.2016

Social worker: CYF changes not enough, Newshub, 07.04.2016

CYF's future to be revealed, Newshub, 07.04.2016

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