National's Response to CYFs Report: Stop 'em breeding!
After the release of the Modernising Child Youth and Family Expert Panel: Inerim Report (actually one in a line of many on the failings of the department) the Government had to acknowledge the damning content. Initially Social Development Minister Anne Tolley claimed that it wasn't more money that was needed to improve the service, but this position has softened. Tolley has publicly accepted the views from the expert panel that a complete overhaul of CYFs operations is necessary and this has been welcomed by the Children's Commissioner.
Despite making the right noises I do not trust Anne Tolley and her Government to actually do the right thing by our vulnerable children. As someone who has worked in education for over 35 years I am aware that the rhetoric very rarely matches the reality when it comes to National Governments. When Anne Tolley was the Minister of Education she kept talking about addressing the needs of New Zealand's high priority learners (mainly Maori and Pasifika children) and the current Minister, Hekia Parata, has continued the theme.
National Standards in Education and Charter Schools were supposedly introduced to support priority learners and resources were to be targeted for those identified with the greatest need. What has actually happened has been the opposite and I have already listed the multiple attacks on the public school system by this Government and the sucking of special needs funding to wealthy private schools.
It is clear that this National Government has no real interest in doing anything substantial in addressing the huge inequalities that now exist in our society and does not see meeting the needs of our most vulnerable as the role of government. National is selling off more state houses then those it is building and at the same time extracting dividends from Housing New Zealand that should be used for much needed maintenance. It is also actively shifting the responsibility of social services to the private sector and NGOs no matter what their past record (SERCO). Relationships Aotearoa was the ultimate casualty of National's philosophy of divesting responsibility, cutting funding then washing its hands of the resulting debacle.
Anne Tolley followed her media advisors and Crosby Textor well, she has looked directly at the camera with eyes full of apparent concern and compassion while explaining that vulnerable children deserve better and substantial change is planned for CYFs. It is highly unlikely that anything substantial will actually happen. I can guarantee that CYFs caseloads will remain high, foster families will continue to lack support and vulnerable children under state care will continue to be treated badly.
It actually appears that what this Government is actually planning to do is something I thought would be a step too far, even for them. Those abused and abandoned by the state are also going to have their right to have children removed too. I guess there is a certain economic logic in reducing welfare spending by stopping those on benefits from breeding and, with increasing immigration, we no longer need a locally produced, cheap workforce.