Artwork painted by a young woman (aged 17) with experience of the youth justice system, and her social worker.

Investing in New Zealand’s Children and Their Families

This page outlines the Government's response to the Expert Panel's Final Report. It also includes links to Cabinet Papers which outlined the legislative reform required to enable and support transformational change across the sector.

Final Report of the Expert Panel on Modernising Child Youth and Family

In response to the release of the Expert Panel's final report, the Government announced major state care reforms and a complete overhaul of Child, Youth and Family to improve the long-term life outcomes for New Zealand’s most vulnerable population. The Minister for Social Development, Hon Anne Tolley, said that the whole system needed to be transformed if we are to give vulnerable children and young people the protection and life opportunities they deserve.

A new entity - the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki - became operational on 1 April 2017. It has high aspirations for all children and addresses their short and long-term wellbeing and supports their transition into adulthood. It focuses on five core services – prevention, intensive intervention, care support services, transition support and a youth justice service aimed at preventing offending and reoffending.

The wider programme of transformational change is expected to take up to five years to be fully implemented.

Find out more about the Final Report of the Expert Panel on Modernising Child Youth and Family, including the Government's response.

The Cabinet papers that outlined the changes in repsonse to the Expert Panel's final report are published below.

New children’s agency established – the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki

To support the transformation of the vulnerable children’s system, the Government agreed to establish a new stand-alone government department.

The creation of the new Ministry signalled a ‘whole of sector’, child-centred approach to working with vulnerable children and young people. It established the new Ministry as a single point of accountability which will ensure that government agencies work together to provide coherent and complete services to these children, young people and their families.

The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki became operational from 1 April 2017.

The Ministry is responsible for the care and protection of vulnerable children and young people, youth justice services and operational adoption services. The Children’s Action Plan Directorate and the Children’s Teams became part of the new Ministry.

Community Investment functions relating to funding and contracting services for vulnerable children transferred to the new Ministry, along with family and sexual violence services relating to child victims or perpetrators, complaint and grievance panel services and policy advice relevant to these functions.

The establishment of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki and the transfer of roles and functions had a significant impact on the Ministry of Social Development.

From 1 April 2017, the Ministry of Social Development continued to have responsibility for the assessment and payment of welfare benefits and entitlements, employment support and training, social housing assessments, case management, and purchasing places for emergency and social housing.

The Ministry of Social Development manages funding and contracting for social services not focused on vulnerable children (for example, budgeting advisory services, elder abuse and neglect), as well as those family and sexual violence services not directly related to child victims or perpetrators. It is responsible for the Office for Seniors and Services for Seniors, the Office for Disability Issues and the Ministry of Youth Development and for the resolution of historic and contemporary claims against Child, Youth and Family.

The Cabinet papers that outlined these legislative reforms are published below.

Steps in establishing the new children’s entity and implications for the Ministry of Social Development
Orders in Council to establish the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki
Transition arrangements

Following Cabinet’s agreement in July 2016 on the roles and functions of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki and the Ministry of Social Development, the Chief Executives of the two Ministries agreed the allocation of capability each agency needed to support its functions. This included the allocation of existing MSD staff and appropriations between the agencies and final decisions on the operating model for the provision of corporate support services. The two agencies work closely together, building on shared experience to better help the clients both agencies work with.

The Cabinet paper outlining this allocation is published below:

Establishment of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki - Transition Arrangements: Allocation of Capability and Appropriations, and Arrangements for Corporate Services

Phase one legislation reform: Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Advocacy, Workforce, and Age Settings) Amendment Act 2016

The first phase of legislative reform, The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Advocacy, Workforce, and Age Settings) Amendment Act, was passed in December 2016 and took effect from 1 April 2017.

The key changes in the Bill were:

  • raising the age of care and protection to include 17-year-olds
  • supporting children and young people to express their views and ensuring that these are taken into account at an individual level and in the development of service and policy
  • supporting children and young people to participate
  • enabling a broader range of professionals to perform a wider set of functions.

Resources

Factsheets and frequently asked questions have been developed to support understanding and implementation of the Act:

Background to Act

More information, as well as advice provided by the Ministry of Social Development during the select committee process and public submissions, is available on the Parliament website.

The papers that outlined the proposals are published below:

Phase two legislation reform:  Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Act 2017

The second phase of legislation reform - the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Oranga Tamariki) Legislation Act - came into effect on 13 July 2017.

The Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 has been renamed the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, with an accompanying title of the Children’s and Young People’s Well-being Act 1989.

A small number of amendments took effect immediately, while the majority will come into force by Order in Council but no later than 1 July 2019.

The legislation:

  • changes the purposes and principles of the Act to better ensure children and young people are at the centre of decision-making while considering them within the context of their families, whānau, hapū, iwi, family groups, and broader networks and communities
  • allows young people to remain or return to living with a caregiver until the age of 21, with transition support and advice available up to age 25
  • strengthens information sharing provisions to keep vulnerable children and young people safe from harm
  • extends the youth justice system to include most 17-year-olds (those charged with specified serious offences will be dealt with in the adult courts)
  • enhances the complaints processes.

Changes have also been made to the Vulnerable Children Act 2014, and there were minor changes to other legislation.