Building stronger services for children

  • Hon Tracey Martin

The first of 14 regional hui for Oranga Tamariki providers to discuss building and commissioning stronger services for children, was held in Nelson yesterday.

Children’s Minister Tracey Martin says she wanted the Ministry and the groups who work in the sector to talk and develop a shared understanding of how they can address the needs of children together.

“It was clear in talking with these providers that they wanted to know more about what Oranga Tamariki was doing so that they can plan and provide better services, which is why I asked the Ministry to host these hui.

“Oranga Tamariki–The Ministry for Children is tasked with transforming the entire system of protection and care for children. That means working more effectively with other government agencies and with the NGOs, iwi and other groups who provide help and support to children.

“This is a long-term shift, taking place over the next 4 or 5 years. It means we have to take orderly steps, and we need to get things right, as any changes being made today have to deliver positive outcomes for a long time to come.

“What I hope the providers will see is that there is a plan, and there is also plenty of opportunity for them to be involved in its design and in the delivery of services.

“Oranga Tamariki needs to build up services in some areas, such as in early intervention and prevention, and create some – such as transition services for young people moving from care to adulthood – that haven’t existed before”.

The Minister said that along with opportunity, there was always pressure to spend money as effectively as possible. Oranga Tamariki currently spends more than $260 million commissioning services from around 525 providers.

“We have to make that spend count, so my focus and that of Oranga Tamariki has to be first on children in care then on those that look like they might end up in our care in the very near future.

“The Ministry has moved around 70% of this spending to longer term contracts to provide groups with greater funding certainty. But the current spend and contracts are still largely what Oranga Tamariki inherited, so I’m interested to hear providers’ thoughts on turning the ‘commissioning’ system around so that it is focused on children and future need rather than history.

“Many of the services and partnerships the government has with iwi and NGO providers have been around a long time for good reason. They’re trusted relationships that deliver for our kids.

“But the system change that’s underway is predicated on listening to our children. So we should be looking at the system from the perspective of what they need and what they tell us might be missing at the moment.”

The Minister said that there were good, open discussions at the Nelson meeting yesterday and she hoped these would be repeated around the country. 

Following the regional meetings a national hui for Ministry providers will be held in Wellington on 28 June.

Media contact: Richard Ninness 021 892 536

Note to Editors:

The schedule of regional hui:

17 May - Hamilton

18 May - Rotorua and Christchurch

25 May - Balclutha

1 June - Havelock North

5 June - Gisborne

11 June - Wellington

12 June – Wanganui

13 June – Whangarei

14 June – Kaitaia

20 and 21 June - Auckland