Friday, September 25, 2015

Restructuring CYF is not the answer

Watching Paul Henry interview Anne Tolley about the latest CYF report was very dissatisfying. There was no discussion of getting to the real core of the problem. Only the terrible statistical outcome for those children who went into state care in 1991, then a lot of blaming of current hierarchy followed by dogged promises of change.

1/ There will always be children born into circumstances that warrant their removal. But when you pay people to reproduce there will be more.

2/ In the past most of these children were put up for adoption. That outcome wasn't always ideal but it was a better alternative than constant upheaval and removal from one placement to another. Adoption delivered a better result than the philosophy of striving to keep the child with its birth mother or blood family at any cost. Because ultimately the child ends up in state care anyway more damaged than it would have been if adopted out at birth.

A Salvation Army home in the 1950s

3/ Increasingly there are people who want and cannot have children. That's abundantly clear from the burgeoning fertility treatment industry.

I've known a number of people who were adopted out at birth, and have read or heard other people's stories. Most have relished the fact that their adoptive parents raised and loved them as their own and they were provided with stability and security. Some have had emotional and behavioural problems coming to terms with the circumstances of their birth and being 'given up'. One I knew was getting into trouble with the law as a teenage boy; another was getting into trouble with the law because the family he was adopted into had strong gang links. But they were the exceptions.

Compare the now known results of "having a care placement" by age 21:

• Almost 90 per cent were on a benefit;
• More than 25 per cent were on a benefit with a child;
• Almost 80 per cent did not have NCEA Level 2;
• More than 30 per cent had a youth justice referral by the age of 18;
• Almost 20 per cent had had a custodial sentence;
• Almost 40 per cent had a community sentence;
• Overall, six out of every 10 children in care are Maori.

It doesn't matter how CYF is structured or how caregivers are reimbursed or how professionalised social workers are. What matters is reducing the incentives for people to produce children haphazardly, but, if they do, acting swiftly to get those children into a nurturing and stable home.


Brendan McNeill said...

Lindsay, such common sense from you as usual.

Why are our so called 'conservative' politicians blind to these facts, these outcomes?

Could it be that we have passed a tipping point, where no politician from the left or right believes they can touch entitlement welfare for teenage mothers without risking their political future?

We are in the third term of the most popular (populist?) 'conservative' Government this country has seen for decades and yet they won't touch this issue other than to tinker lamely around the edges. This does not provide much cause for optimism I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lindsay

This is not a comment - but I couldn't work out how to email you.

You might be interested in this article - I have only read the abstract and not the full article but it seemed to be something that you would want to know about:;jsessionid=96103C9BE8B4E8DA8FD9A1008271E3EA.f03t01

We study the effect of the size of the welfare state on demographic trends in OECD member countries. Exploiting exogenous variation in public social spending, due to varying degrees of political fractionalization (i.e. the number of relevant parties involved in the legislative process), we show that an expansion in the welfare state increases the fertility, marriage, and divorce rates with a quantitatively stronger effect on the marriage rate. We conclude that the welfare state supports family formation in the aggregate. Further, we find that the welfare state decouples marriage and fertility, and therefore, alters the organization of the average family.

Best wishes


Lindsay Mitchell said...

Thanks Margaret, I have seen that article and specifically remember quoting the phrase about welfare "decoupling fertility and marriage" in an article for the Listener:

Anonymous said...

Restructuring CYF is not the answer

Closing it down - and stopping all it's welfare spending is

Anonymous said...

And here are some real police -

Steve Taylor said...

Brendan, you ask:

"Why are our so called 'conservative' politicians blind to these facts, these outcomes?"

Umm.....that would because there are no actual Conservative politicians currently in Parliament.

If you can find me any of the current 121 who could be identified by what is probably the most accurate and succinct list of what defines classical Conservatism (below), I am happy to be corrected:

As someone who works and teaches on the frontline of this industry, and as someone who researches the outcomes of social services, I am in whole-hearted agreement with Lindsay that core issues are not being identified -to do so would take a level of ethical and moral courage absent in our current Parliament.

I almost choked on my coffee when Anne Tolley rationalised her direction as being based on the Vulnerable Children's "White paper".

I eviscerated that document years ago: