New Zealand Law Society - Committee majority supports raising care and protection age

Committee majority supports raising care and protection age

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Parliament's Social Services Committee has released a report on the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Advocacy, Workforce, and Age Settings) Amendment Bill with a majority recommendation that it be passed with amendments.

The bill would extend State responsibility for care and protection to a person's 18th birthday. Currently State care and protection stops on a person's 17th birthday.

It also has the objective of encouraging the participation of children and young people in decisions that could significantly affect them, to ensure that wherever possible policies and services have regard to the views of children and young people, and of supporting the set-up of independent advocacy services, with a particular focus on children and young people in care.

The bill would also allow a broader range of professionals to perform a wider set of tasks to help identify and meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people. To achieve this it would make the chief executive responsible for many tasks that social workers are currently responsible for, with this responsibility then delegated to other people.

The committee recommends changing the bill commencement date to 1 April 2017, to align it with the date when the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, is expected to begin operating.

The Green Party MPs on the committee stated that they were unable to support the bill.

The bill was referred to the committee on 15 June 2016, with submissions closing on 28 July 2016. The committee heard 22 submissions.