Staff need stronger Māori cultural capability to deal with children in State care

Māori Party co-leader, Marama Fox has asked questions of the Social Development Minister, Anne Tolley, following the Children's Commissioner's report, State of Care, 2015.

Findings from the report are based on the knowledge from both home and overseas, that "access to culture and culturally appropriate social work practice are strong protective factors for children who come into contact with the care and protection and youth justice system."

Marama Fox says, “Of course, we would add that by far the most significant protective factor is whānau, whānau, whānau.” 

She has also asked the Minister how we can immediately improve outcomes for rangatahi Māori considering the fact that our children comprise 58% of the care and protection population and 68% of young people in CYF residences.

“It is devastating to learn that close to three decades after the release of the report Puao-te-ata-tū, cultural capability is not being prioritised in the daily practice of most sites and residences.  Without cultural competency being implemented by staff and policy makers alike, even the most aspirational frameworks will look at best like window-dressing.

“It is so disappointing to see that in these times, "culturally appropriate practice" is still being regarded as the preserve of Māori staff alone.  How can we take up our responsibilities as a nation to look after all our children, if only some of us are making the effort to care?”

The Māori Party strongly agrees with the recognition from the Children's Commissioner that investment and leadership is needed to strengthen staff cultural capability.

“At the end of the day, that same investment must be prioritised in strengthening the leadership of whānau in making every child feel important in taking up the challenge to care,” Fox says.