The holiday mood is a seductive one, with its many competing discourses of hope, indulgence, generosity and belonging. We don rose coloured glasses to look back at our successes and dare to keep them on while looking forward. We fully expect that in the next few weeks, when our toes are firmly in the sand and our rosy glasses are at their most glorious tint, we will receive the promised report of the CYF ‘overhaul.’ This seasonal blog post is in anticipation of this. It is written by Bobby Bryan, a new social work academic at Te Kuritini o Waikato (Wintec). Bobby has worked for Child Youth and Family, the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, Ministry of Health, Department of Corrections, non-government Youth Health Services, Kaupapa Māori family violence services, and as a social services consultant. He looks back on the good times of social services in Aotearoa New Zealand with the hope that the memory of these will provide strength for social workers and for Child Youth and Family in 2016.
Continue reading A return to the “good old days”: Back to the future of Aotearoa New Zealand social services
The Modernising Child, Youth and Family ‘Expert’ Panel’s Interim Report is rhetorically powerful at times. The form of the report expands and contracts like a concertina and is replete with what Noam Chomsky (1989) refers to as necessary illusions and emotionally potent over-simplifications. In order to consider the ideological underpinnings of this document it is necessary to dig beneath the surface façade.
Continue reading Repetitive “One … two … three … Blinkers Off!” (Looking at the Interim Report)
This two-part guest blog post is by Iain Matheson. Dr Matheson is the inaugural director of a soon-to-be-launched not-for-profit research centre for residential and foster care. He is a social sector management consultant, researcher and evaluator, with a background in statutory child welfare management in both New Zealand and Scotland; he started his post-qualifying social work career in residential care. His recent doctoral research was on the experiences of New Zealand university students who were formerly in state care. (Disclosure: Between 2002 and 2004 Iain was the Child, Youth and Family national manager for residential and foster care, and has since undertaken work for Child, Youth and Family and the Ministry of Social Development).
Part 1 comprised of an introduction and a discussion of the interim report’s strengths (the good). This post addresses its weeknesses of the report (both the bad and the potentially ugly)
Continue reading Part Two of The Modernising Child Youth and Family Expert Panel’s Interim Report: The Good, the Bad and the Potentially Ugly
This two-part guest blog is by Iain Matheson. Dr Matheson is the inaugural director of a soon-to-be-launched not-for-profit research centre for residential and foster care. He is a social sector management consultant, researcher and evaluator, with a background in statutory child welfare management in both New Zealand and Scotland; he started his post-qualifying social work career in residential care. His recent doctoral research was on the experiences of New Zealand university students who were formerly in state care. (Disclosure: Between 2002 and 2004 Iain was the CYF national manager for residential and foster care, and has since undertaken work for CYF and MSD).
Continue reading The Modernising Child Youth and Family Expert Panel’s Interim Report: The Good, the Bad and the Potentially Ugly
This guest blog is by Philip Gillingham. Dr. Gillingham is a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland. He is a qualified social worker who has spent 27 years working in and conducting research about child protection services. Recent publications can be viewed at http://researchers.uq.edu.au/researcher/2576.
Serious ethical concerns have been raised about the development of the Predictive Risk Model (PRM) to identify children at the highest risk of maltreatment as they enter the public welfare benefit system. However, there are also serious practical problems with how it was developed which mean that it is seriously flawed. What follows is a brief and jargon-free explainer as to why it will not work, based on an analysis of the documents released about its development.
Continue reading Why the PRM will not work
This guest blog post is by Dr Russell Wills, Children’s Commissioner. Dr Wills introduces his newly published report the ‘State of Care’ and invites readers of the RSW blog to review the report, and to comment.
This week, I released my office’s first public report about Child, Youth and Family. The State of Care report summarises what we learnt from monitoring Child, Youth and Family and engaging directly with children in care between January 2014 and June 2015. I’m proud of the report, and pleased to be able to share it with the public.
Continue reading The State of Care report
This guest blog post is by Paora Moyle. Paora is a PhD candidate at Massey University investigating the operation of Family Group Conferencing (FGC). FGC was introduced into the New Zealand child protection and youth justice system by the Children Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989, partly in response to a strong Māori critique of the overwhelming overrepresentation of Māori family/whānau in the child protection and youth justice system. Paora’s personal experience, and her emerging research findings, suggest that all is not well with this internationally acclaimed approach to culturally responsive social work practice.
Paora’s research into this topic led her to engage in several awareness raising activities in Facebook and other social media, including a series of Youtube videos. At the bottom of this post you will find a link to a crowdfunding site inviting you to offer practical support to Paora’s research and work with whānau.
Continue reading Talking my walk from the inside out: An indigenous practitioners view of child protection in Aotearoa
One of the items included in the scope of the current New Zealand government’s review of the Child, Youth and Family services (CYFS) is this one: ‘The potential role of data analytics, including predictive risk modelling, to identify children and young people in need of care and protection’.
Predictive risk modelling (PRM) is a simple and seductive idea. If we can predict with accuracy who is likely to abuse children before they have done so, then we can target services to those families, fulfilling the dual objectives of preventing harm before it occurs, and being uber efficient with taxpayer dollars. Such seductive ideas, especially in an age where access to the ‘big data’ required to attempt such a proposition is viable, are often worth investigating. Enormous datasets can be mined, a large number of variables can be included, and patterns of particular combinations of risk factors for certain populations can be identified. In the case of the proposed Ministry for Social Development (MSD) PRM tool, however, there a number of issues. In particular, the level of accuracy of the PRM tool is overstated, the data it relies on has serious problems, its use as a practice decision-making tool is minimal, it has significant rights implications, and using it to decide who should be offered preventive services may not be any more effective than the current state of affairs (although to be fair this is difficult to ascertain – but needs to be).
Continue reading Predictive risk modelling: on rights, data and politics.
This guest blog post is by Mike O’Brien. Mike is an Associate Professor at the School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work at the University of Auckland and has previously been the Head of the School of Social and Cultural Studies at Massey University. Mike chaired the Alternative Welfare Working Group in 2011. He is a Board member at Te Waipuna Puawai and of the Auckland City Mission and is a member of the Impacts of Poverty and Exclusion policy group for the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services. He is also the social security spokesperson for the Child Poverty Action Working Group. In this post he discusses the meaning of the “investment approach” in the context of New Zealand government;’ review of Child, Youth and Family Services.
Continue reading Investing in children