The Vulnerable Children Bill has been introduced to Parliament and contains a series of measures to protect and improve the wellbeing of vulnerable children, including:
- The screening and vetting of every person in the central Government Children’s Workforce; people with serious convictions will be permanently restricted from working closely with children.
- Parents whose children have been previously removed or died in their care resulting from a culpable act, will have to demonstrate to Child, Youth and Family and the Family Court that they are safe to parent that child. Child Harm Prevention Orders are proposed which will be placed on adults who pose a serious risk to children.
- The Courts will be able to curtail and define guardianship rights of birth parents in extreme cases.
- Children removed from their parents due to severe abuse and neglect can be placed with Home for Life carers who can provide a safe, stable home. It will stop those who seek to destabilise the new home with vexatious court proceedings, upsetting visits and sabotaged overseas holidays.
- The Family Group Conference process will be improved, giving children, family/whānau and iwi a greater degree of participation and accountability for this process
- Children taken into care because of serious abuse and neglect will be able to be enrolled into KiwiSaver
Five government agencies – NZ Police and the Ministries of Justice, Health, Education and Social Development – will be accountable for protecting and improving the lives of vulnerable children. Child protection policies will also be adopted by the five agencies above as well as Te Puni Kōkiri, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, District Health Boards and school Boards of Trustees.
Submissions close on Wednesday, 30 October 2013.Source: The Families Commission