Minister for Children Anne Tolley has welcomed today’s official launch of the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki.

“It’s important our vulnerable children and young people have a safe, stable and loving home so they can go on to lead successful lives,” says Mrs Tolley.

“The new Ministry puts children and young people’s safety and wellbeing first. It will work with families and whānau to ensure children and young people get access to the care and support they need, and will ensure they have a say in decisions that affect them – this is what young people have told me they want.

“This is the start of a four to five year major transformation programme to build a more child-centred care and protection system, focusing on harm and trauma prevention and early intervention, rather than crisis management.

“The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki will also be a single point of accountability for children and young people where it will be easier for them to raise concerns or complaints.

“Children and young people will also have access to a new independent advocacy service, VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai.”

The Prime Minister Bill English attended today’s launch in Wellington with Minister Tolley, along with a number of young people who have experienced state care and have had or continue to have input into the overhaul.

Budget 2016 invested $347 million to fund the current transformation process and to address cost pressures.

Notes to editors

The first phase of reforms establishing the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, passed by Parliament in December 2016:

Extend the age of state care to a young person’s 18th birthday; Ensure children and young people’s views are taken into account as part of decision-making at an individual level, and in the development of services and policy; Support the establishment of an independent youth advocacy service; Enable the broader range of professionals with specialist skills to perform certain functions. Social workers will still be the main professionals responsible for carrying out these functions.

The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki will focus on five core services - prevention, intensive intervention, care support, youth justice, and transition support into adulthood. It will focus on:

A new child-centred operating model, focused on harm and trauma prevention and early intervention. A single point of accountability for children and young people, with the voice of the child represented in planning and strategy. A social investment approach using actuarial valuations and evidence of what works to identify the best way of targeting early interventions, to ensure vulnerable children receive the care and support they need. Direct purchasing of services such as health, education and counselling, with funding following the child so that young people can gain immediate access to assistance.   A stronger focus on reducing the over-representation of Māori young people in the system. Targeted support for caregivers. Introduction of National Care Standards so there is a clear expectation for the standard and quality of care in placement homes. A new trauma-informed Professional Practice Framework for staff.

Further reforms are currently before Select Committee which will enable:

Young people to remain in care or return to care up until the age of 21, with transition support and advice available up to the age of 25. The establishment of an information sharing framework to keep vulnerable children and young people safe from harm.

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