Annual Report 2016-17 cover

Supporting the transformation of the system for care and support of vulnerable children and young people

The transformation of the system for care and support of vulnerable children and young people over the next four to five years involves comprehensive and systemic reform, beginning with the establishment of a new child-centred operating model and a new agency, the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki.

Our functions relating to the care and support of vulnerable children and young people were taken over by Oranga Tamariki from its establishment on 1 April 2017. Children and young people in the care of the Chief Executive of MSD at that date were formally transferred to the care of the Chief Executive of Oranga Tamariki.

In the transition period up to 31 March 2017 the needs of young people and children in MSD’s care remained paramount. During this time we stayed committed to providing high-quality, effective core services to all our clients.

Preparing for the commencement of Oranga Tamariki

A transformation programme was established in April 2016 to:

  • support the formal establishment of Oranga Tamariki and the roles, responsibilities and functions it and MSD have from 1 April 2017, as well as the arrangements for the provision of shared corporate services
  • ensure the smooth transition of staff and functions between the two agencies
  • support the design and implementation of the new operating model and early enhancements to services for Oranga Tamariki through the Investing in Children Programme
  • refocus MSD to reflect its revised role and functions, implement a new organisational structure and develop a new strategic direction.

Supporting the formal establishment of Oranga Tamariki

In July 2016 Cabinet agreed the role and responsibilities of Oranga Tamariki and the functions and services supporting vulnerable children and young people. Cabinet also agreed the role, responsibilities and functions that would remain with MSD. In October 2016 Gráinne Moss took up the role of Chief Executive-designate of the new agency.

A core component of our ongoing support for Oranga Tamariki will be the provision of shared corporate services for at least the first two years of its establishment phase. This will allow Oranga Tamariki to focus on embedding changes to its operational and frontline services in order to achieve the Government’s objectives for the vulnerable children’s sector.

In October 2016 the Chief Executives of both agencies agreed a model for the delivery of corporate services. Services that support the strategic direction, design and delivery of core functions, and those that manage significant operational risk, have been established within Oranga Tamariki. This includes strategy and governance functions, ministerial services, communications services, and strategic IT and finance capability. Transition support agreements were established to support Oranga Tamariki for the final quarter of the 2016/2017 year while the new teams were formed to ensure a smooth transition.

Arrangements for longer-term provision of corporate services have been established through service level agreements to support the delivery of transactional and routine services. This includes services relating to IT infrastructure, human resources and finance services, property and facilities management, and data management.

Supporting the smooth transition of functions and staff to Oranga Tamariki

A dedicated workstream within the transformation programme was established to oversee the transition of staff, functions and support services to Oranga Tamariki on 1 April 2017 and the effective provision of shared services.

The People Transition Project focused on the transfer of staff to Oranga Tamariki, including the security vetting process for staff required under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 (VCA), and running and supporting the recruitment processes for the new Oranga Tamariki roles. We undertook VCA checking of 3,100 core children’s workers to enable Oranga Tamariki to operate with an appropriate workforce from Day One.

The project also focused on supporting staff impacted by the changes, both within Oranga Tamariki and as a result of MSD’s internal structural changes, ensuring staff were connected to the recruitment processes for new roles and were able to access employee assistance programmes.

The Corporate Services Programme focused on ensuring Oranga Tamariki was able to operate effectively from Day One, with the necessary changes made to support both agencies across policy, people, process and technology functions. This work included making changes to the ICT infrastructure across human resources, finance and business applications and systems, as well as supporting the development of internal and external communications channels for Oranga Tamariki. The Corporate Services Programme also led the development of the suite of documents (including Memoranda of Understanding and service level agreements) to support the establishment of shared corporate services.

Supporting the design and implementation of the new operating model for Oranga Tamariki

The service and practice model design workstreams have been progressing the end-to-end design of the five core services and associated practices that will be delivered by Oranga Tamariki. Full design and delivery of new services and practices will occur over a four- to five-year period.

The first stage focused on transitioning to Oranga Tamariki with minimal disruption to services and support. We have been working through the detailed design and delivery of a suite of ‘early enhancements’ that will help to achieve tangible improvements for children and young people and generate momentum for change. Stage 2 focuses on implementation of care support and transition support services. Youth justice and intensive intervention services follow in stage 3, and prevention services will be fully implemented in the final stage.

A key focus in the lead-up to the start of Oranga Tamariki was ensuring that the necessary changes were made to the legislative framework to make sure the change is supported and enduring. From 1 April 2017 the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Advocacy, Workforce and Age Settings) Amendment Act 2016 came into effect:

  • extending the age of state care to a young person’s 18th birthday
  • ensuring children and young people’s views are taken into account as part of decision-making at an individual level, and in the development of services and policy
  • supporting the establishment of an independent youth advocacy service
  • enabling a broader range of professionals with specialist skills to perform certain functions; social workers will still be the main professionals responsible for carrying out these functions.

Two other key pieces of work were the establishment of the independent advocacy service VOYCE – Whakarongo Mai and Child-Centric Feedback and Complaints Mechanism. Both were live from 1 April 2017.

VOYCE represents the need for children and young people to be heard and their voices kept at the centre of all decisions made about them. The intent of the service is to provide an independent voice

from children and young people to the care system, rather than an adult voice for these children and young people. One of the core principles of the service is that it will actively build a care-experienced community and promote a youth leadership approach. This means that over time services will be increasingly led, governed and delivered directly by people with a care experience.

The Feedback and Complaints Mechanism was established to increase opportunities for children and young people to have their say. It is a crucial component of the safety net wrapped around our most vulnerable children to support them to thrive, and to support system improvements informed by their feedback.

Refocusing MSD to reflect its revised role and functions and to develop a new strategic direction

A further arm of the Transformation Programme was focused on the changes required within MSD to support its refreshed role and mandate as a result of the creation of Oranga Tamariki.

We have made good progress in thinking about our role, focus and capabilities over the next 10 to 15 years. Our purpose, to help New Zealanders to help themselves to be safe, strong and independent, will not change. We are committed to a social investment approach to deliver better outcomes.

Our clients have different and, for some people, complex needs around welfare, financial assistance, housing and employment. Making greater use of data and analytics to achieve government priorities in the most cost-effective manner is key to any future delivery model. This will also be supported by better use of technology to connect clients with the services they need and to help us know that we are making a difference.

We are also thinking about our role in the wider social system; working with trusted partners and acting collectively will improve outcomes for clients and help achieve greater efficiencies through cross-sector joined-up work to support common clients.

This work contributes to the following Ministry outcomes:

  • More people are able to participate in and contribute positively to their communities and society
  • Fewer children and people are vulnerable
  • More communities are strong and thriving
  • Fewer children and young people commit crime

By 31 March 2017:

3,405 referrals had been accepted by Children’s Teams

Between 1 July 2016 and 31 March 2017:

119,044 children and young people were the subject of notifications to Child, Youth and Family, including Police family violence referrals

Notifications needed further action in respect of 29,187 children and young people.

Embedding the Community Investment Strategy

We purchase community-based services to support vulnerable children, young people and adults each year. To ensure we are making the biggest difference with this investment, we developed a Community Investment Strategy to guide decision-making about where and with whom we invest this money.

Results Measurement Framework

We have completed the Results Measurement Framework intervention logic (which includes result measures) for ten of our programmes and services, which account for 28 percent of our funding. This means that more contracts now have clear, client-centred measures in place. Client result measures have been introduced in two additional programmes for 2017/2018. Further work in this area will be dependent in part on progress with the client-level data collection process as the collection and use of data is expected to occur at an individual level.

Acceleration for Results (results-based contracts)

Acceleration for Results is about looking at the overall design process and approach used for results-based contracts (RBCs) to deliver programmes and services based on the results we expect to be achieved.

To further understand RBCs we worked with the Ākina Foundation to test and develop readiness tools, which include how to effectively transition existing contractual relationships. Ākina will provide us with a report outlining the challenges in establishing and managing results-based contracts for both non-government organisations and MSD, and with prioritised recommendations to address these challenges. We will progress this work through 2017/2018.

Individual client-level data requirements

During Phase 1 of the rollout process, eight services were contractually required to collect a specified set of individual client-level data. This included the Building Financial Capability contracts that were re-let on 1 November 2016.

In early 2017 the Privacy Commissioner conducted a review of the policy and processes for the collection, analysis and use of client-level data. At the same time we identified an issue with the IT solution that was about to be used for the transfer of the client-level data. As a consequence of these events, the Minister for Social Development deferred the contractual requirement to collect client-level data until the purpose and policies for collection, storage and use were made clear to the sector, and a secure system for transferring, storing and accessing the data could be developed.

From 1 July 2017 the policy work is being led by the Social Investment Agency.

Approving and assessing social services providers

A significant number of community social services providers that we work with were assessed against Social Sector Accreditation Standards and accompanying Specialist Standards as required. We have strengthened our core business policies and procedures and are in the last stages of finalising service level agreements with the Department of Corrections and the Ministry of Justice, for whom we are providing accreditation services. We are investigating expanding our services to other social sector agencies.

We have made steady progress in the Inter-Agency Accreditation programme, which seeks ways of working together to reduce duplication and compliance. We are currently involved in the R9 Accelerator project, a team from which has identified a solution to the IT-related issue in relation to information sharing [47].

The solution is to develop a tool for providers to upload accreditation-related documents to avoid each agency having to ask for these documents separately. Each agency will have access to the documents to reduce duplication of effort for government and providers. The next stage of the process is to develop a proposal and negotiate the funding agreement with interested government agencies.

Progressing Memoranda of Understanding with iwi, Joint Service Delivery plans, and Va’aifetu

Working more effectively for Māori and Pacific children will help improve outcomes for all children. During the period up to 31 March 2017 we continued to progress five formal Memoranda of Understanding with iwi partners (Ngāpuhi, Tainui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāti Toa). In 2016 Ngāi Tūhoe and Ngāti Tūwharetoa also sought relationships with MSD with a view to establishing formal partnerships.

The pilot of Va’aifetu (Pacific Knowledge and Practice Guidelines) in 2016 supported a number of Pacific children to be settled with kin in safe, loving and stable homes, while strengthening identity and cultural connections for others.

New automated processes at the Child, Youth and Family National Contact Centre

On 30 November 2016 we launched new email routing technology to automate processing for email notifications received by the Child, Youth and Family National Contact Centre. As a result of the upgrade, essential information goes into the system of record used by social workers as soon as practicable. This enables a faster response by giving social workers the most recent information to inform the decisions they make for children and young people.

The automation has reduced the risk of manual errors in entering information and freed up staff time previously spent on manual data entry processes, to spend on tasks like social work assessment.

The National Contact Centre was transferred to Oranga Tamariki from 1 April 2017.

Youth Crime Action Plan

Since its introduction in 2007 we have been part of a cross-agency team delivering the Youth Crime Action Plan (YCAP). YCAP aims to provide, by 2023, a more integrated approach to reduce the likelihood of reoffending by those who enter the youth justice system.

The Investing in Children team [48] in MSD joined the YCAP Steering and Governance Groups in September 2016.

In the period up to 31 March 2017 we worked with our YCAP partner agencies to ensure that the future direction of youth justice services aligns with that of Oranga Tamariki, with a particular focus on custodial remands, transitions and supporting communities.

We also worked with our YCAP partner agencies on:

  • re-establishing youth offending teams as local co-ordination hubs
  • holding four regional hui, in Auckland, Christchurch, Whangarei and Rotorua, to assess progress on local arrangements for developing local youth crime reduction plans
  • developing a set of YCAP key indicator results, drawn from the creation of a cross-sector dataset, which will become publicly available in 2017/2018
  • producing material that captures the voices of young people in youth justice on how better to support them to reduce the risks of reoffending
  • establishing early case consultation processes between our local youth justice teams and their Police Youth Aid counterparts.

Developing alternatives to remand

Up to 31 March 2017, as part of the cross-sector Youth Justice Governance Group, we led work to reduce remands, with support from NZ Police. Three workstreams were identified:

  • a trauma-informed tool for the justice sector to support informed decision-making that balances responsibilities to protect the public and restore victims, whilst changing the destructive life course of struggling young people
  • short-term specialist foster care placements for children and young people who are in conflict with the law to the extent that they need a period of safe containment
  • an operating model for small-group remand homes in three communities (Whangarei, Palmerston North and Dunedin) in addition to facilities for custodial remands.

By 31 March 2017 we had agreed a business case to make more beds available by re-opening ten beds in Te Puna Wai residential facility, and to create the three remand homes.

Prior to the establishment of Oranga Tamariki, we commenced research to inform new practice guidelines aimed at supporting the wider remand system and the decision-making that leads to a reduction in custodial remand placements. This research is continuing in 2017/2018.

Working with the Children’s Action Plan

A key element of the Children’s Action Plan is the implementation of the Children’s Team approach – a way of working hand in hand with families and whānau to create safer lives for vulnerable children.

Children’s Teams support at-risk children who do not need a statutory care and protection response but still need intensive cross-agency support. We work together with other agencies, non-government organisations and communities towards one plan, always putting the child first.

During 2016/2017 we embarked on an evaluation of Children’s Teams. Initial results indicate positive outcomes for children who have completed their engagement with Children’s Teams to date. A sample study of children who had exited Children’s Teams found that, by the time they exited the team, almost all (92 percent) of the children’s unmet needs were assessed as either fully or partially addressed, either by gaining access to services (eg better accommodation) or by achieving better outcomes (eg school attendance) [49].

In 2016/2017 six recently established Children’s Teams were gaining momentum in their communities. The Children’s Team approach was successfully expanded in Canterbury and Te Tai Tokerau communities.

We also introduced the Vulnerable Kids Information System (ViKI) and Vulnerable Children’s Hub to the Te Tai Tokerau Children’s Team to improve referral management and information sharing.

On 1 April 2017 the Children’s Action Plan functions and appropriation were transferred to Oranga Tamariki.


[47] The issue is that there is currently no common IT area/platform that would allow multiple agencies to access one set of common accreditation-related documents.

[48] The Investing in Children team was established in MSD in April 2016 to help develop key initiatives to support the operating model and framework for the care and support of vulnerable children and young people and preparation for the establishment of Oranga Tamariki. The IIC’s membership of the YCAP Steering and Governance Groups transferred to Oranga Tamariki in April 2017.

[49] Analysis of 300 children who completed their engagement with Children’s Teams from late 2016. There may be some variability in team’s interpretations as conclusions about needs being fully or partially met were based on the judgement of lead professionals and expert panels.