2 Apr 2015

CYF panel too focused on money - advocates

7:28 am on 2 April 2015

Child advocacy groups are criticising an overhaul of Child, Youth and Family for being too focused on money and not children.

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Photo: 123RF

The Government yesterday announced the appointment of six high profile panellists including chairperson Paula Rebstock, who headed a working group looking into benefit dependency, and Police Commissioner Mike Bush.

The panel is charged which designing a business case for the modernisation of CYF and assessing the investments that are made in the service.

CYF has recently looked at what it could do to improve its service, but Social Development minister Anne Tolley said what it came up with did not go far enough and advice from experts outside the organisation was needed.

One area the panel was being asked to consider was whether more of the services work should be done by outside contractors.

UNICEF's National Advocacy Manager Deborah Morris-Travers was worried it could be a cost cutting exercise.

"You know it's quite appropriate to be done in communities, but very often what happens with these kinds of changes when services are outsources is that it is seen as a way to reduce spending."

She said the panel really needed to acknowledge the good work that CYF does in very difficult situations and give it the support it needs.

"Child, Youth and Family social workers are spending 50 percent of their time on administration so that's an area of work that could be done by other people so that social workers can be building the relationships with families and with others that need to be involved."

Labour's social development spokesperson Jacinda Ardern was concerned that the Government would try and squeeze more money out of CYF and that vulnerable children would suffer as a result.

Jacinda Ardern says adequate resourcing is crucial.

Jacinda Ardern Photo: LABOUR PARTY

"What we need to ensure is that at it's core CYF still plays its fundamental role of intervening when a child is at risk, my concern is that she's using contracting out to mop up the fact that they are not resourced well enough to do even that job properly."

Angie Rogerson is the spokesperson for Family Crisis Intervention Service, an organisation that helps families with complaints they have about CYF.

She said the already growing number of outsourced CYF work made it even more difficult for families who were trying to resolve a problem, a when they had to deal with an arms-length organisation.

"Now if that care provider goes 'no' we don't think there's a problem, they then the families have no other resources, what we're finding in complaints is we say, well hang on Child, Youth and Family you contracted this organisation and Child, Youth and Family say not our problem."

Sarah Ashton from the Dingwall Trust, which provides homes for young people who cannot live with their parents, noted none of the panellists the Government had chosen were from the New Zealand care system.

"They need to make sure that they find a way to seek the views of the people that have worked in the care system - day-to-day expertise."

She said the panel would also need to get children's view on how their care should be organised.

The panel will provide a high level business case to the social development Minister by 30 July, and a more detailed business case will be done by December.

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