Rise issue 10 cover

From the frontline

Chris Pickering talks about the newly created role of Child, Youth and Family (CYF) senior advisor to the regional operations manager.


How did you come to be in your current role?

I came to New Zealand with my partner in 2002 from Manchester, United Kingdom. I worked in the statutory child protection arena for 8 years in the UK, both in residential and fieldwork services, as a social worker and as a team manager. I started at CYF in 2002, moving around the country in a variety of roles, even including occasional stints as acting operations manager. In 2008 I accepted a 12-month secondment as site manager in Invercargill, and late last year, returned to Nelson to take up my current role. I am now senior advisor to the operations manager for the Upper South area of CYF.

The most important thing I’ve learned is the value of communication. I’ve also learned how important it is to develop meaningful relationships, work at continually improving performance and have strong leadership.

What are your priorities in this role?

It’s about influencing change. We’re here to support and advise the operations manager across a range of activities and communities. We also respond to the activities and priorities defined in our strategic work plan. This includes promoting quality social work with a focus on supporting frontline staff; working with NGOs, and education and health sectors to help children and their families; and responding to community expectations.

I want the public to recognise CYF as a service that is passionate about, and advocates for, the welfare of children and young people. I want to promote the communities’ understanding of CYF, and be seen as a service that delivers on its promises.

How do you see it strengthening the frontline?

The new focus should improve stakeholder relationships by teaming up with our government and community partners to enhance the standard of service, in particular with regards to the children and young people in our care. There is an old saying that goes, “It takes a village to raise a child” – teaming up is our version of that village.

I'm here to make sure that our region performs at its best. This includes checking our overall performance results; reviewing our practices, especially around complex cases, to make sure we did everything right; and supporting our frontline workers by offering guidance around what we do and the way we do it. I also track complaints and enquiries to find emerging trends, and work with our teams to address them.

What are the role's highlights so far?

Returning home to Nelson and putting my own stamp on this role. It’s also been exciting to participate in several key multi-agency forums, working with colleagues from Work and Income, DHB, Police, Women’s Refuge, Probation, Heartlands, local Iwi, Salvation Army, Presbyterian Support and Plunket. We work together to creatively achieve our goals.

There is a lot of energy within this group. We come together to share ideas and make things better.

How will you achieve success in your role?

Our success will be judged by those we work alongside, namely children and their families, and other government and community organisations. Our success is based on theirs.