Updating the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989
When the Children, Young Persons and Their Families Act 1989 was introduced it was seen to be world-leading child welfare legislation. The Act impacts on the lives of thousands of children, young people and their families. The Act introduced major changes to the way decisions were made about children and young people who were victims of abuse and neglect or who broke the law, and placed New Zealand at the forefront of international legislative best practice.
The Act determines how the state intervenes to protect children from abuse and neglect, and to prevent and address child and youth offending. It represents how well our society cares for and supports our children and young people. The Act introduced principles that changed the way decisions were made about children and young people, enabling family to become partners in the decision-making process to resolve family issues.
Investing in the future
We want to continue to invest in the future of our children and young people. In early 2007, the Ministry of Social Development embarked on a process to review the Act, in accordance with our Minister’s request. We were pleased to receive nearly one hundred submissions from key stakeholders, practitioners and academics from across the care and protection, disability and youth justice sectors.
Based on what submitters said, and to ensure consistency with best practice, we want to update the Act - to make sure we keep responding to the needs of our children today, and in the future. We want to draw on the expertise of our strong social services sector to make the Act stronger, less complex and easier to follow. We also want to encourage agencies to work together more, to share information, and to increase the participation of children, young people and their families.
Updating Child Welfare Law
The Government introduced an Amendment Bill into Parliament in late 2007. Making these changes to the Act will be the most significant improvements in child welfare law since 1989. The changes will help us to do the best for New Zealand's children and young people.
The proposed changes also reflect New Zealand's ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCROC) in 1993, the Victims Rights and Sentencing Acts in 2002, and the Care of Children Act 2004.
The Bill is available via the Parliament website. The Bill was reported back to the House by the Select Committee in August 2008. The Committee's report is also available via the Parliament website.