CYF overhaul must prioritise a safe, loving, home-for-life for Kiwi kids - Ali Mau

31/03/2017

Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft describes the CYF overhaul as a "once in a lifetime opportunity to put the past behind us and make change for the better".

When the process began, Social Development Minister Anne Tolley asked the commission to find out what children think about how the system works for them.

"All the kids said, if we have to leave our parents, we want to stay with our siblings. They're the ones who share our experiences, and allow us to keep a sense of belonging and identity."

The bill now before Parliament stipulates the relationship between the child or young person and their siblings is to be respected, supported and strengthened.

Andrew is clear that all research shows the whanau/hapu model works best, but only when it is properly resourced and supported. The expert panel found that too many Maori children were placed in substandard care as CYF workers attempted to follow the letter of the law.

The commissioner has high hopes for the new version of what he calls "the most reviewed organisation in recent history", which will start on April 1. Above all, he says, a safe, loving, home-for-life must be the priority.

Click here for the rest of Ali's Sunday Star Times column 

Alison Mau hosts Drive weekdays on RadioLIVE