Kids need loving homes
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.