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Bill marks start of state care overhaul

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/06/2016 Peter Wilson, Political Writer

A bill that marks the start of a major overhaul of the way the state cares for vulnerable children © Press Association / Anthony Devlin A bill that marks the start of a major overhaul of the way the state cares for vulnerable children Parliament has passed the first reading of a bill that marks the start of a major overhaul of the way the state cares for vulnerable children.

The Children, Young Persons and Their Families (Advocacy, Workforce, and Age Settings) Amendment Bill makes the first important changes to the system.

It extends the age of state care from 17 to 18, establishes a new youth advocacy service and widens the range of professionals who can work within the new legislative framework.

"We are transforming our care and protection system into a completely child-centred operating model," Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said.

"It will deliver better long-term outcomes through to adulthood for vulnerable children and young people, rather than just short-term crisis management."

Mrs Tolley told parliament that children and young people who had been in state care were far more likely to leave school with few qualifications, receive a benefit, be convicted for criminal offending and have children who also needed care and attention.

"Young people who have experienced care before 17 are 22 times more likely to spend time in prison by age 21 than young people who have had no contact with CYF," she said.

"We are absolutely committed to changing the lives of these vulnerable young people."

Mrs Tolley said the bill was just the first stage and she would bring in other changes later in the year.

The bill passed its first reading 107-14, with only the Greens opposing it.

It has been sent to a select committee for public submissions.

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