The Government has announced plans to review Child Youth and Family. Anne Tolley has said that the Department is eight to ten years behind in its thinking in areas such as how children in state care are supported. Since National has now been in power for approaching seven of those years the comment is a damning acknowledgment that this Government does not have a clue about issues concerning children and young people.
The review is an attempt to stigmatise very dedicated social workers and blame them for things beyond their control. It is no coincidence that aspects of child care may be worsening at the very time that child poverty rates are increasing. But if you want to do something you address the cause, not the response.
Tolley has announced a review panel headed by Paula Rebstock. Appointing an economist to head a review of an organisation such as Child Youth and Family shows you where the priorities will be. The other panel members include the Commissioner of Police, the head of a UK charity for kids, the former Chief of Staff for the Maori Party and a Professor of Psychology. There is no one from Child Youth and Family and no one who works with troubled young people in New Zealand.
The terms of reference suggest that outsourcing of services is on the cards. There will clearly be a focus on the Department’s spend with the desire to cut costs wherever possible. The paper is full of that really annoying management speak that dominates review documents like this.
The proposal matches the Government’s usual shock and awe approach to reorganisations. Appoint a panel to come back with preordained views from carefully drafted terms of reference. Create the impression of action by throwing up a number of ideas at once. Blame hard working public servants for things beyond their control. Then privatise.