More funding for children’s care

The Government has provided more than $27 million to Oranga Tamariki so that it can provide better support for children and young people in care or youth justice services, Children’s Minister Tracey Martin announced today.

“Oranga Tamariki has understandably been focusing on its core areas as it begins the transformation of services for children, but there are a number of areas where there are current shortages, or where it needs to expand what it does,” the Minister said. “This funding, which was set aside as a contingency in last year’s Budget, will help with this.”

The extra $27.4 million for Oranga Tamariki—Ministry for Children is for three key areas:

  • improving the availability of care placements, especially for tamariki in emergency situations or with high needs ($15.7m)
  • trialling options for transitions from care to independence for young people ($6.45m), and
  • developing a tool to assist decision making in the youth justice system ($1.25m)

A further $4 million has been allocated to further progress the Ministry’s new operating model for children.  

 Emergency and high needs placements

The Minister said the most urgent need and the majority of funding was for Oranga Tamariki to improve care options for children and young people with emergency needs.

“We want to see an increase in the number of placement options generally, but there is a particular need for ‘emergency’ and high-needs placements. Every week some children and young people need emergency care because a crisis has resulted in an end to their current living situation or placement.”

The Ministry has already improved its capacity in this area, for example by opening more community remand homes around the country, which has seen a recent drop in the numbers of young people being held in police cells.

The Minister said the investment in this area would be used to create more placement options, by partnering with organisations who currently deliver care services, as well as increasing the Ministry’s internal capacity.

“There will also be a focus on improved information technology, and better co-ordination of care services within regions, Mrs Martin said. “We need to know who the kids are; what places are best going to meet their needs; and then match them.”

Transition Support Services

Oranga Tamariki needs to develop a range of services for young people moving from care, with new laws expanding its responsibilities to young people aged 18-25 to start by July 1 2019.

“We know this transition to adulthood can be a challenging time, particularly for care-experienced young people,” the Minister said.

The services being planned include: keeping in contact with young people after they leave care; ensuring young people can access the services they need; enabling those aged 18 to 21 to remain and return to live with a caregiver; encouraging healthy relationships; providing supported living arrangements; and transition support services for young people. The Ministry will work with a range of people – including care experienced young people, whānau, and other social agencies – to develop these services.

“Supported Living pilots are already underway in Auckland and Wellington. These provide safe, semi-independent accommodation for young people aged 17-20 years to support the development of skills to allow them to transition from fully supported care to independent living.”

 Remand decision-making tool

The remand investigation tool helps agencies dealing with young people in the youth justice system to provide the Youth Court with better information.  The aim is ensure that only those that need the security of a custodial placement at a given point in time are in such placements.

“The tool enables sector partners (Police, Oranga Tamariki, Education, Health and others) to pool their information into one picture of the young person - looking at things like culture and identity, their experience of trauma, offending history, risk factors strengths, and what’s happening in their community and their whānau.”

A paper based version of the tool is currently being trialled in the Manukau Youth Court and the trial will expand to two other courts this year. After the pilot and evaluation process, a digital version of the tool will be developed.

ENDS

Contact: Richard Ninness 029 235 0423