Friday, August 21, 2015

Australia : "Adoption Advocacy"

The following piece is written in an Australian setting but it is just as relevant in this country. I recall Don Brash behind bagged for suggesting adoption become a more widespread practice. It's kind of odd that people of a leftist persuasion use the argument of 'urgency' for reducing child poverty yet support the CYF philosophy of keeping children at risk with their natural families as long as possible. And it's even odder that adoption by NZ Europeans is almost unmentionable yet whangai (unregulated Maori adoption) is culturally kosher.

A mere 89 children were adopted from 'out-of-home care' last year. At the same time, more than 30,000 children had been in care continuously for longer than two years.

This is a proxy figure for the number of children potentially available for adoption, were adoption not officially taboo within the child protection world. Many children in long-term care have been subjected to prolonged maltreatment at home  and highly damaging instability while in care (multiple entries, exits, and reentries) as endless efforts are made to preserve and reunite dysfunctional families.

The taboo reflects the complex history of adoption, including the legacy of the Stolen Generations and discredited forced adoption practices. But the tragic lessons of these episodes have been learned. Modern adoptions are 'open', meaning adopted children can have contact with birth parents and knowledge of their family and cultural heritages so they do not grow up strangers unto themselves.

A promising sign is that the debate is changing due to the growing realisation that many children would be better off having a safe and permanent adopted family for life.

Diana Bryant, the Chief Justice of the Family Court,  and Megan Mitchell, the  National Children's Commissioner have both expressed support of greater use of adoption for some children in care.

But there is still a long way to go. Political leadership is needed to drive cultural change in child protection authorities, but politicians are wary of supporting adoption for fear of being accused of repeating past mistakes and 'stealing' children all over again.

On controversial issues such as adoption, politicians prefer to lead in the direction the public is already prepared to head. This is why it is crucial for organisations like the CIS, and adoption advocacy groups such as Adopt Change, to lead the debate and build community support for adoption.

Adoption from care will not become a standard part of Australian child protection, as it should be, until the idea that modern, open adoption is a socially acceptable practice is embedded in the hearts and minds of the Australian public. 

Dr Jeremy Sammut is a Research Fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies. His book, The Madness of Australian Child Protection: Why Adoption Will Rescue Underclass Children, will be published by Connor Court in November. He is speaking today at the CIS Consilium conference session Changing Minds to Change Lives: Breaking the Adoption 'Taboo' in Australia.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Drilling down DPB numbers

In Parliament this week the Prime Minister said:

"... through a strong economy and the welfare reform measures this Government has undertaken, we now have the lowest number of people on the equivalent of the old DPB since 1988."

Strictly speaking this is true and surely very good news?

The complication is benefit changes.

To get a clearer picture I asked MSD for the number of sole parents on any benefit and compared it to earlier data. Roughly, this compares pre to post GFC.

At September 2006 there were 107,628 sole parents on welfare. (By December 2007 to number had dropped further to 103,366 but I don't have the additional info for that date.) The following table provides a breakdown of sole parents by benefit type. Note that 88 percent were on the DPB.

By June 2015 the percentage of sole parents on the "equivalent of the old DPB" - Sole Parent Support - had dropped to 76 percent.

So we can frame this another way.

The percentage of sole parents on welfare benefits other than "the equivalent of the old DPB" has doubled. 

That is because sole parents with children 14 and older, and 'women alone' have been moved onto the Jobseeker benefit; and sole parents caring for someone who would otherwise been hospitalised have been moved onto the Supported Living Payment.

Of course, it's good news that there are 12 percent fewer sole parents on welfare since December 2007. The employment rate of sole parents has steadily increased. But as my previous post illustrated, the core behaviour that drives long-term  welfare dependency and child poverty is relentless. Beneficiaries continue to add 'newborn' children to existing benefits, most commonly, Sole Parent Support. 35 every day in the six months to March 2015.

I reserve my excitement for the day that steady trend line, which dates back to at least 1993, starts to decline.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

35 children a day added to an existing benefit

In the six months to March 2015 6,347 children under the age of one were added to an existing benefit. That's 35 every day. Half are Maori. Just under half have a mother/caregiver aged 24 or younger.

The welfare reform policy which aimed at stopping this poverty-inducing habit has failed. That's hardly a surprise. The threat to make someone with a child as young as one go to work is empty when there are no jobs.

For context the number is down on the 2014 equivalent (6,634) but still up on the 2006 equivalent (5,854).

All annual births to March 2015 (57,476) are down on March 2014 (58,515) in any case, which will explain the drop at least partially.

Here is an age breakdown. Note these figures pertain to the caregiver so differ from total children ie some caregivers have added more than one child.

And here is the ethnicity breakdown:

Around two thirds are to single parents.

Under 1 year-old is proxy for newborn. It's the best I have ever managed to get from MSD. And children's ethnicity is assumed to be the same as the parent/caregivers. Of course that will not always be the case but information on the child's ethnicity is not recorded.

The point is - and I hammer it again - people with no independent ability to raise a child continue having them. And their actions drive the child poverty problem.

The Left are fond of telling us it takes a village to raise a child (the financial implications of which are clear). It does not take a village to conceive and produce it.