The second round of proposed Child Youth and Family reforms will see New Zealand lose its status as having world leading legislation, and is counter to research and evidence says Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.
“The Children, Young Persons, and their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Bill claims to create a more ‘child-centred operating model’ and yet it removes one of the fundamental principles of the original ground breaking Act: the presumption that children who are removed from their parents, where possible, will be placed within their wider family, whānau or iwi.
“We know that children who are able to remain within their wider family, and when that family is well supported, have much better outcomes. To give up on that approach is completely short-sighted, and makes no sense.
“The legislation does have some positive changes, including the emphasis on supporting early intervention and promoting approaches to recognise mana tamaiti (tamariki) but all of this is undermined by the loss of the principles around kinship care.
“No one has ever argued that children should be placed in wider family placements no matter what. There has always been an underlying premise that these placements must of course be safe. But that has not meant that kin carers have been well supported. If the Minister is looking for something to change, increasing support for kin carers would have been a great place to start.
“Removing children from their whānau must always be an absolute last resort. Our efforts should rightly be focused on supporting family to do the best job they can, and reducing the number of children who ever face the prospect of being placed somewhere else. But for the Minister to declare that a child who is removed will be no better off within wider family, than with a stranger, ignores what the research tells us, and what a child-centred approach should truly mean.
“There are some new proposed principles in this legislation that have the potential to do good, but so long as they are placed alongside a change that ignores the knowledge and expertise that has taken years to build, we cannot support this Bill,” says Jacinda Ardern.