White Paper for Vulnerable Children released

  • Paula Bennett
Youth Affairs Social Development

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has released the White Paper for Vulnerable Children today at the Jigsaw national conference in Wellington.

"We will target support and services to our most vulnerable children through more than 30 new initiatives introduced in the White Paper," says Mrs Bennett.

"Too many New Zealand children are seriously abused and neglected. In many cases of extreme abuse a range of people held some information but no one put all the pieces together, it is time for fundamental change," she says.

A Vulnerable Kid's Information system will be implemented and alongside Auckland University we will develop a comprehensive risk predictor tool to identify vulnerable children before they are abused and get them the help they need.

A legislative change will mean that Chief Executives of Social Development, Health, Justice, Police, Housing and Te Puni Kokiri will be jointly accountable for achieving results for all vulnerable children, while Regional Directors and Children's Teams will coordinate individualised responses locally.

A new child protect line will also mean calls are triaged appropriately.

"Many people are concerned about children but don't want to call Child, Youth and Family. This new line will be the first point of contact and ensure the right response," says Mrs Bennett.

Non-government organisations will be contracted to offer ongoing support to families who take in a child and the number of specialist trained caregivers for high needs and high risk teens will be expanded.

The Child Youth and Family complaints process will be reviewed as will parental leave provisions, with a view to extending these to families who take on a child permanently.

"People working directly with children will be screened through a legislated vetting process and we will encourage social workers to register with the Social Workers Registration Board," says Mrs Bennett.

"We will also introduce tough new restrictions for abusers through child abuse prevention orders allowing Judges to stop child abusers from gaining access to children," she says.
The existence of a child protection order could mean that another baby born into that situation is removed from that parent's care.

"Three separate but complementary documents form the White Paper, which will be the basis for the most significant advancement in child protection this country has ever seen," says Mrs Bennett.

"They give us clear, easy to digest direction on how our child protection system will be reformed and the new measures that will be implemented over the coming decade," she says.

"This White Paper is bigger than politics; it is bigger than any one individual. It is not only for this generation of New Zealand children, but also for their children and their grandchildren."

More information can be found at: www.childrensactionplan.govt.nz