Ministry welcomes State of Care report

The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki welcomes the report of the Children’s Commissioner assessing the state of care in secure residences.

Published on
15 May 2017

Chief Executive Gráinne Moss said the Ministry supports the Commissioner’s desire for residences to be places where young people can live in a friendly, family-like environment and get the support they need.

“We share the same goal and the issues are well understood. I absolutely agree there are areas for development to improve outcomes, and work is already underway to address many of the issues raised.

“I welcome the report’s finding that staff work hard to meet the needs of young people, and that a number of improvements have been made to models of care, as well as increased training and supervision of staff and improved material conditions.

“Part of our transformation work includes developing smaller community based settings for those in our care. To do that we need to recruit and train specialist foster carers and find the right environments.

“We treat allegations of violence in our residential settings very seriously and these are thoroughly investigated, whether it relates to staff or young people. While no concrete evidence was found to support the allegations mentioned in the report we have numerous initiatives in place to deal with bullying.

“Where there are suggestions of bullying we have a grievance process that we are strengthening to make it easier for kids to notify staff safely; all residences offer independent advocates for children and most now have youth councils. We’ve also established independent advocacy through VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai.

“We are dealing with kids with complex needs who have suffered significant trauma and so we want to establish a new way of structuring our residential care to separate those with different needs; for example, those who have been sentenced and those with specific issues such as mental health or drug problems.

Other initiatives underway include:

  • developing a child-centred, consistent approach, focused on a strong cultural emphasis, especially for Māori
  • establishing dedicated general manager positions responsible for youth justice and care and protection residences to put a major focus on strengthening this care service for our most vulnerable young people
  • separating those on remand from those receiving a justice sentence
  • lifting skill levels of staff – developing a new Practice Framework for Ministry staff, supported by a new supervision framework
  • involving Health, Education and other agency services more closely
  • involving children and young people in shaping policy and practice.

“We also have some great outcomes, such as a highly successful training programme at our Youth Justice facility in Rotorua which is getting these young people into employment, and the transition to independence programme at Whakatakapokai in Auckland; I am pleased that the Commissioner has recognised this good practice.

“As we build this new Ministry, we will continue to look at the recommendations closely to see what further changes we need to make.”