In October Social Development Minister Paula Bennett released the White Paper for Vulnerable Children. Plunket was involved in the working group on the Green Paper and wrote one of the organisational submissions.
We fully support the focus on agencies sharing information and working together at a community level to improve outcomes for vulnerable children. Connecting children to services is central to improving outcomes.
Universal services such as maternity care, access to a doctor, early childhood education and Well Child Tamariki Ora make a big contribution to stopping children becoming vulnerable. This is something that’s important for all children. All New Zealand children deserve the opportunity to get the best possible start in life - not just those identified as vulnerable.
Vulnerability is complex – there is a range of contributing factors. A change in circumstance, such as a redundancy or a relationship breakdown, can see a family that was previously managing well become vulnerable within a very short amount of time.
Plunket is very pleased to see there will be an evidence based approach to improving results and a commitment to developing a well trained workforce.
A large part of what allows Plunket to deliver the service we do is the level of specialist training of our workforce. We absolutely support the government’s commitment to training.
The challenge now will be to ensure effective implementation. Now that we’ve got the ‘what’ we need to focus on the ‘how’. How is this going to work in practice? Getting this part of the process right is key to making a real difference.
It’s vital that we continue to monitor these policies once they are implemented. Once we start seeing the results there needs to be analysis and ongoing improvements to ensure that help is getting to where it is most needed.
Universal services already play a vital role in early identification of increasing vulnerability and in linking vulnerable families with other services they need. This will be even more important in the implementation of the White Paper.