Annual Report 2016-17 cover

Adapting to transformational change

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Timeline: Transforming the system of support for vulnerable children and young people: 2011–2017.


July: The Government launches the Green Paper for Vulnerable Children, asking the public to consider questions around its ideas for fundamentally changing the way we care for children.

July – February 2012: Campervan tour to 34 towns and cities across New Zealand to allow the public to have their say on the Green Paper.


February: Public submissions close on the Green Paper, with nearly 10,000 submissions received.

October: Government response to submissions released in a White Paper for Vulnerable Children, with a cross-agency Children’s Action Plan including:

  • new legislation to put in place a new child-centred approach and tough new laws to protect children
  • Chief Executives of social sector agencies to be jointly responsible for achieving results for all vulnerable children
  • local Children’s Teams to be established to co-ordinate individualised responses
  • new ways to find, assess and connect the most vulnerable children to services earlier and better
  • a secure information system for vulnerable children supported by information sharing
  • better results for children in care through homes for life and support for caregivers
  • safety checking for all people working directly with children.


July: Launch of the first Children’s Team pilot in Rotorua.

September: Introduction of a Vulnerable Children Bill to protect and improve the wellbeing of vulnerable children and to give effect to the Government’s decisions in the White Paper.

October: Launch of the second Children’s Team pilot site in Whangarei.

November: Establishment of the Vulnerable Children’s Board of chief executives and the independent cross-agency Children’s Action Plan Directorate.


May: Report of the Social Worker Caseload Review, with recommendations for improvements in the way MSD goes about its statutory responsibilities for caring for and protecting New Zealand’s most vulnerable children and young people.

June: Start of Child, Youth and Family modernisation programme to support the changing landscape of services for vulnerable children.

Vulnerable Children Act passed to embed the changes signalled in the White Paper.


April: The Government appoints an Independent Expert Panel to make recommendations for reforming the system of support for vulnerable children.

September: The Expert Panel’s interim report to the Government shows that the existing system is not delivering effectively and that transformational change is required in Child, Youth and Family.

December: The Independent Expert Panel provides its final report to the Minister for Social Development, making recommendations for a bold and urgent overhaul of the care and protection and youth justice systems (report published March 2016).


March: The Government announces decisions for the future of the care and protection and youth justice system, including:

  • establishing a new child-centred operating model, including a new government department, to provide a single point of accountability for the long-term wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people
  • adopting a social investment approach to identify the best way of targeting early interventions
  • a stronger focus on reducing the over-representation of Māori in the system
  • raising the upper age for state care to 18, with the ability to continue to provide transitional support up to age 25
  • establishing an independent youth advocacy service.

MSD establishes a programme to lead the fundamental shift to a system that enables children to feel a sense of identity, belonging and connection. The entire change package will take five years to implement.

August: Gráinne Moss is announced as the Chief Executive-designate of the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki.

December: The Government introduces a new bill to implement a wide range of legislative reforms to support the new operating model for Oranga Tamariki and the statutory framework for meeting the needs of vulnerable children and young people (the Bill passed into law in July 2017).


1 April: The Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, comes into being and assumes from MSD functions relating to support for vulnerable children and young people and their families.

April: Legislation comes into force to raise the upper age for care and protection to 18, to ensure that children and young people have their views taken into account in the development of service and policy, and to enable a broader range of professionals to perform a wider set of functions.