How handy –BIMs in one place
Anyone interested in the briefings to incoming ministers can find and read them all online here. Here's some comment on three: Families Commission, CYFS, and Office of Childrens COmmissioner.
The BIM from the Families Commission notes that 20 years ago, almost nine out of 10 families with children had both parents living in the same household. Today, that number is seven out of 10, with the other three being sole parent households. What it didn’t say that of the seven, many have children that are not living with their father and mother – but one of their parents and their parent’s partner. Given that half all murders are domestic –violence related, with many of these families having a non-European step-parent, I would have thought that would have been relevant. If the Commission hasn’t research this, it is not doing its job, if it has researched it, it should be in the BIM.
It mentioned the (now scrapped) Family Commission Summit. Apparently the summit and its costs made the Minister’s face turn blue, which is an appropriate colour. I note that several commissioners and CTU president Helen Kelly were confirmed to speak, as was Phil O’Rielly from Business New Zealand. Yet those such as Family First’s Bob McCoskrie, and For the Sake of our Children’s Christine Rankin were not even asked and no Pacific Islanders were confirmed to speak. So participants were hardly “drawn from a cross-section of people in terms of age, ethnicity and areas/sectors of knowledge and influence”. Just one Maori was asked to speak and that’s because the Children’s Commissioner is Maori.
Which brings me to the next briefing paper - the briefing from the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. No mention at all was made of the smacking advocacy or Section 59 of the Crime’s Act – whatsoever - despite mentioning it in the first paragraph of this year’s Annual Report. It considered Section 59 a “major issue”.
The BIM said that children who do not experience warm loving carers during infancy are less likely to develop empathy and so struggle with future relationships – and NCEA, apparently. We don’t need “ warm loving carers” for children, we need children who are cared for by their father and their mother, not all day carers that provide care out of a home environment while their parents work, get home tired and see their children in weekends only. We need children who are helped by their parents with homework so these kids can get NCEA. And it is Maori children who need this support more as they are over represented in under achievement.
Early intervention is about tilting the balance in favour of children. When we build skyscrapers, we ensure that the foundations are well designed and securely in place. The foundation should be strong families – the OCC answer is a strong state intervention led by task forces and frameworks, along with a “strategic and integrated” approach. Pathetic.
Although the OCC did mention that there was an increase in notifications to CYFS due to family violence, it was the CYFS briefing paper that had the details. No mention was made of the OCC in the CYFS briefing at all. Child abuse notifications had gone up by 30,000 in the past year, because police are required to refer all family violence – including smacking – notifications and investigations to CYFS. But the amount that required further action had actually reduced with no change in the rate of substantiated child abuse. Was this the reason why smacking and Section 59 was not mentioned by the OCC BIM? It is clear that the thousands of notifications are starting to hamstring the effectiveness of CYFS and the BIM says if irrelevant notifications were to increase it will lead to an “inability to cope”.
Organisations like Family First will claim that irrelevant advocacy work of the OCC is leading to notifications that are starting to hamstring the ability of CYFS to do its job.