Partial repeal of the subsequent children provisions

Cabinet has agreed to make changes to the subsequent children provisions.

The decisions Cabinet made were based on a review of the provisions that found they are complex and confusing, are not commonly used, and pre-determine the risk of harm for children. We have written a review of the evidence base supporting these changes.

The safety and wellbeing of children remains our key priority, and the partial repeal does not diminish our ability to respond when we have concerns about the safety of a subsequent child.

Cabinet agreed to a comprehensive package of changes, including:

  • partially repealing the provisions for the vast majority of subsequent children – with the provisions retained only for the small number of cases where the parent has a conviction for the murder, manslaughter or infanticide of a child in their care
  • amending and strengthening operational policy and guidance focused on how Oranga Tamariki assesses and makes decisions when a subsequent child is involved, particularly in high-risk cases
  • monitoring and reporting on subsequent children cases against practice standards and baseline measures.

The policy work also identified that a key problem is the lack of support for parents and whānau who have had a child permanently removed from their care, or where a parent has been convicted for the death of a child in their care. Where a child has been removed, support services currently drop away when a decision is made that there is no goal of return.

Cabinet has directed the Minister for Children to report back in March 2021 with proposals for additional supports in these situations. Additional supports would be intended to support parents and whānau:

  • to reduce the risk of possible future children requiring care or protection
  • to maintain the best possible relationship with their children in care
  • with the grief, loss, and trauma of child removal, and to address the issues that led to the parent having a child removed, or a conviction for the death of a child in their care.

Published: September 7, 2020