Taken By The State

Oranga Tamariki ‘pleased to support mum’

Newsroom sought an interview throughout yesterday with an Oranga Tamariki representative to discuss the issues raised by the Hawkes Bay attempted uplift.

The agency initially indicated it would do so but in the evening instead provided this statement from Alison McDonald Deputy Chief Eexecutive, Services, for Children and Families, South, claiming Oranga Tamariki was pleased "when information and offers of support came to light which enabled us to support mum to continue caring for her baby safely."

"There are many reasons why families reach a point where their children need to be protected, such as family violence or the impact of drugs and alcohol, so we all need to look at the toxic stressors on families, to focus on keeping kids safe. There is unfortunately a far higher incidence of these factors in some families and in parts of our communities.

It’s important to remember that the vast majority of children, including tamariki Māori, in New Zealand are at home - 98.5 percent of Māori children are not in care. Of course, we as a society should aim for zero, but we are focused on keeping children safe, and until the factors impacting their safety are reduced, we will continue to be in a position where unfortunately we will need to take children into care.

The conversations surrounding this are not easy ones to have, but the more people engaging in conversations about child wellbeing, and the more light that’s shone on the tough stuff in our communities, the more effectively change will happen.

Reading the headlines, people are often surprised that we actually have fewer children entering care - 10 percent fewer children came into care in the last year, compared to the 12 months in the lead up to the formation of Oranga Tamariki. And, there are nearly 500 more whānau or family placements since the start of Oranga Tamariki and there’s an increase in the number of children returning home, and continuing to be supported. And, we have strong growth in the number of young people living independently, but continuing to be supported as they transition to adulthood.

[I] think the way in which a child or young person comes into care, is also often misunderstood. Oranga Tamariki can only remove a child from their home with authority from the Family Court by way of a custody order or place of safety warrant. We must satisfy the Family Court that the harm or risk of the harm to a child requires this action and that no other alternative will ensure safety for the child or young person at that time.

In this case, we had been working intensively with mum for months before the birth, and since then, she’s been living in a teen parent home.

We were pleased when information and offers to support mum came to light, which enabled us to support mum to continue caring for her baby safely.

We want to uphold the mana of mum and her whānau, that is why we are not going into the detail that others have.

We know this is the right thing to so. We will always protect the children and young people we work with, even when things play out in the media"

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