Kids need lov­ing homes

Matamata Chronicle - - Your Paper, Your Place - NANAIA MAHUTA

The re-brand­ing of Child Youth and Fam­ily to Oranga Ta­mariki has to be more than a mar­ket­ing ex­er­cise.

When we con­sider the num­bers of young Maori chil­dren who are as­sessed as ‘‘vul­ner­a­ble’’ and then up­lifted by the State into a fos­ter care regime, we must be con­cerned about the long-term place­ment and care of these chil­dren to pre­vent fur­ther dam­age.

Young peo­ple emerg­ing from State care have not pro­vided a glow­ing re­port about the sys­temic prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with longterm care and pro­tec­tion place­ments.

The Gov­ern­ment recog­nised that this was an is­sue along­side mov­ing young peo­ple to­wards in­de­pen­dence and in­tro­duced a suite of leg­isla­tive re­forms de­signed to im­prove the care, pro­tec­tion and place­ment of chil­dren caught in the sys­tem.

From a con­stituents point of view I have had cases rang­ing from grand­par­ents want­ing to re­tain care for their mokop­una but recog­nis­ing the fi­nan­cial chal­lenges of the ‘psy­cho­log­i­cal and be­havioural’ is­sues re­quir­ing at­ten­tion.

There have been home for life cases where fos­ter par­ents want­ing to be­come adop­tive par­ents struggle with bu­reau­cracy and po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness.

Then there are the wider im­pli­ca­tions where stereo-typ­ing whole whanau due to the sense­less ac­tions of a few.

Ad­mit­tedly each case is dif­fer­ent and leg­is­la­tion pro­vides a par­tial fix to some very dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances.

But, there needs to be an ab­so­lute thresh­old of re­spon­si­bil­ity for the care and pro­tec­tion de­ci­sion-mak­ing process and that needs to re­main with the chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Bet­ter de­ci­sions re­quire a wider con­sid­er­a­tion of well­be­ing fac­tors, long-term ben­e­fits as­so­ci­ated with kin-care place­ments and cul­tur­ally re­spon­sive fol­low-up sup­port.

Let’s not lose sight of the re­forms re­quired to en­sure that those most vul­ner­a­ble through no fault of their own re­quire a re­spon­si­ble and car­ing so­ci­ety with laws to pro­vide for their long-term well-be­ing to reach their full po­ten­tial.

Let’s keep chil­dren at the heart of law changes de­signed to pro­tect them.

-Nanaia Mahuta (pic­tured) is MP­for Hau­raki-Waikato.

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