Children's Commissioner recommends change to State care system

By Tema Hemi

The Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft has released his report today recommending major changes to the current state care system. Māori numbers within State care is significant and he says creating a stronger relationship with iwi and whānau is the best way forward.

Jugde Becroft believes the state care system is broken and it's time for a new approach. He says, "I guess you could say we've had a European system with Māori add-ons.  What needs to change is that it's gotta be a Māori system, a kaupapa-Māori system for Māori by Māori."

With two-thirds of the 6,300 children in State care being Māori, the Commissioner believes it's time Government partner with iwi to deliver specially designed solutions. 

He also says, "We think that community homes, well-supervised with expert wrap-around services stand a much better chance of turning lives around and of producing productive adults. It's the way forward."

Minister of Children Tracey Martin says, "I think iwi and whānau have to be much more involved than they are now, absolutely, and Oranga Tamariki needs to be working with and is working with iwi around the country to make sure we resource them, strengthen their capacity and involve them much more in the future of what is going to be the well-being of our children."

The collaborative approach is one of three recommendations in the report:

  1. Iwi - The collaborative approach is one of three recommendations in the report.
  2. Kainga ā-Hapori - The opening of more co-run kin homes or community group homes to replace secure institutional residences. 
  3. Wheakoranga - Identifies a set of 21 experiences he hopes children in State care will encounter.

Judge Becroft says, "What we are strongly recommending is while a child is in State care good work is done with families but when children or young people are on remand, go back to their families they've got stability and security and a much better chance of success."

The Minister is still to finalise a proposal on the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care expected mid to late this year. 

Martin also says, "That's still a work in progress so I'm hoping that I'll be able to come before the end of the year with cabinet's outcomes."

The Children's Commissioner is an Independent Crown Entity, appointed by the Governor-General, carrying out responsibilities and functions set out in the Children's Commissioner Act 2003.