Simon Collins is the Herald’s social issues reporter.

Young people to have voice in new CYF set up

Tupua Urlich, a 20-year-old who was in state care from age 5 to 16 served on the CYF review panel's youth advisory panel.
Tupua Urlich, a 20-year-old who was in state care from age 5 to 16 served on the CYF review panel's youth advisory panel.

Children and young people in state care will be involved in governing a new independent advocacy service aimed at giving them a voice.

The new service, announced today by Social Development Minister Anne Tolley, is being designed jointly by a youth advisory panel, the Government, the Tindall Foundation, Todd Foundation, Vodafone Foundation and Foundation North (formerly the ASB Trust).

Tindall Foundation manager John McCarthy said the four philanthropic foundations started planning an independent advocacy service before the Government set up the review panel led by Dame Paula Rebstock last year, but decided to work jointly with the panel when it was set up.

"Government has said it will core-fund the new service, and the philanthropics are open to whatever else might be required to support the service," he said.

"We have co-funded the business case that the review panel's interim report recommended last September, and we are co-funding the development of the implementation plan."

Tupua Urlich, a 20-year-old who was in state care from age 5 to 16 and served on the review panel's youth advisory panel, said the main goal of the new service would be to give a voice to children and young people in care.

"I see it as being a really powerful voice in terms of the implementation [of the child protection reforms], and making sure things are going as they are supposed to be," he said.

Mr McCarthy said young people in care would be on the governing board.

"My expectation would be that it would have a board that would have a strong representation of young people on it, and young people with an experience of being in care," he said.

"It may have other people on that board with experience of government and financial management, as you would expect."

Tracie Shipton of the Dingwall Trust, which set up a network of children in care in 2010, said Dingwall was supporting young people involved in designing the new service, but would not have an ongoing involvement in running it.

"When it happens, it will stand on its own feet. It can't be part of another agency," she said.

Mr McCarthy said its "first function" would be to connect children and young people in care with one another so that they could share their experiences and support one another.

A Cabinet paper published today says the new service will advocate both for individual children and "at a systems level", while the Children's Commissioner would still have a role focusing on "well-being for all children and the monitoring of care services".

The paper does not provide any costings for the new service and Mr McCarthy said a financial plan was "still in design". An implementation plan is due to go to the

Government on April 30.The Cabinet papers are online at:http://www.msd.govt.nz/about-msd-and-our-work/work-programmes/investing-in-children/index.html

- NZ Herald

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