A cornerstone Government initiative to help our most vulnerable kids has come unstuck with Treasury raising major concerns about its effectiveness and key stakeholders describing it as unmanageable, Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.
“New material obtained by Labour shows the agencies tasked with running children’s teams are struggling to staff them and are having to postpone referrals because of it.
“Not only that but Treasury officials have cautioned against a hasty national rollout, while at the same time the Privacy Commissioner has raised ethical concerns about a planned cross-departmental information sharing arrangement.
“Children’s teams were at the centre of Paula Bennett’s Action Plan for Children. They were supposed to improve individual outcomes for a large number of the 20,000 to 30,000 kids targeted by the plan.
“One was launched in Hamilton in August, while another two are due to start work in the Eastern Bay of Plenty and Tairawhiti in October.
“But briefing papers show there are not enough lead professionals for the number of referrals the teams are expected to manage, with the government agencies that provide staff pushing for them to be hired on a case by case, or taken from other programmes.
“While it is estimated around 284 full time lead professionals would be needed, as of June this year there were just 51.
“The papers also note that because there is insufficient commitment by government agencies and NGOs, the Ministry of Health wants philanthropic organisations to fund the teams.
“That supports concerns that these teams, despite big expectations, are being under-resourced. If the Government was truly committed to doing better by our kids it would be putting the time and resources into this initiative,” Jacinda Ardern says.