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Empty coffers leave children's teams at risk

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has hailed children's teams as the early intervention panacea, but left the kitty empty when it comes to resourcing them, Labour’s Children’s Spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

“Anne Tolley’s intention was for these children's teams to identify and support up to 20,000 at risk children who don't meet the threshold for a statutory intervention from Child, Youth and Family. They were established to do a serious and important job, but have never been resourced for it.

“The Minister admits as much in select committee documents which show 7 out of 10 regions have not been able to find enough staff to manage the teams.

“Hamilton and the Eastern Bay of Plenty fare the worst, with fewer than half the number of lead professionals they need to provide support for the children and their families.

“Anne Tolley knows full well what the problems are – she has even asked over-stretched professionals, among them public health nurses, in other full time jobs to pick up lead professional roles in these teams.

“As Nelson Marlborough DHB point out, redeployment has meant some duties have been ‘reprioritised’ and B4 School Checks have been delayed.

“Internal emails at Waikato DHB mention ‘bigger policy issues’ that weren’t unique to Hamilton and raise concerns around caseloads and the challenges facing nurses ‘to prioritise the children and families they see within existing resources’.

“The children's teams have an important job to do. They need to be supported and resourced to do it,” Jacinda Ardern says.