When approximately 60 per cent of children in state care are Māori processes need to change in favour of whānau, hapū and iwi solutions, said Labour’s Whānau Ora spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.
“Widespread concern about Government reforms of Child Youth and Family Services reveal that not enough has been done to engage with Māori to develop solutions that improve long-term outcomes.
“It would be all too easy to blame ‘irresponsible’ or ‘undeserving’ parents but there is a deeper insight to the systemic issues leading to the rates of Māori children uplifted and put into state care. Sadly these same children, find their way into the youth justice system, which is further evidence that a different approach is needed.
“What works is an approach that builds on the early evaluation from models where iwi engage to improve the long-term care options for children who are vulnerable to further risk.
“This is about early intervention and action rather than the current ‘ambulance at the bottom of the cliff’ approach.
“Labour absolutely understands that when the profile of children in state care track upwards in the 0-5 years age group, a culturally responsive service model is required to determine a loving home and a caring whānau.
“This is a difficult space and the emotional scars are much harder to repair and are often overlooked. That’s why Labour is calling for the Government to better clarify the way in which care and protection provisions will take account of the whakapapa, identity, and whānau connections to determine the best placement options for children.
“To date the Governments review panel has done little to demonstrate that it has broadened the level of input with those iwi, Māori organisations and services that have experience in the care and protection of children, “ says Nanaia Mahuta.