TDB EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION: CYF – The Hollowing Out of a State Agency

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“CYF’s is gone, you know, it’s finished, it’s gone. It hasn’t worked and we’re changing.” – Anne Tolley

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Information passed on to this blogger raises questions as to why CYF has apparently been “under-performing” and why it seems stretched to deal with a mounting crisis of increasing numbers of  at-risk families.

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A fall in staffing levels may have played a part in CYF’s “under-performance” – an allegation which seems to be supported by recently obtained figures under the Official Information Act.

1. Setting the Stage

As announced on 1 June, last year, National was casting it’s eye over social-services as part of it’s next step in it’s privatisation agenda;

Social bonds, in which the return for investors will be partially determined by whether or not agreed social targets have been achieved, will become another tool in the Government’s social investment approach that is aiming to improve the lives and prospects of the most vulnerable New Zealanders.

The announcement was couched in usual flowery terms of spin-doctored waffle;

“The Government is focused on achieving better results for individuals and families in highest need,” Finance Minister Bill English says.

“Where we succeed, there are opportunities to help people fulfil their potential, a chance to break inter-generational cycles of dependency and, in the long term, potential savings for taxpayers.

“So social bonds are a consistent fit with our wider social investment approach which aims to better understand both the drivers and risks of social dysfunction and where we can have the greatest impact in improving people’s lives.”

Vague promises of improved provision of services were made;

Dr Coleman says social bonds are an innovative way for the Government to contract social outcomes. They will see private and public sector organisations operating together to fund and deliver services.

But the ‘crunch’ was this statement;

If they achieve agreed results, the Government will pay back the investors plus a return. The return depends on the level of results, up to an agreed amount.

Jan Logie, from the Green Party, voiced concerns which many people throughout the country must have felt after hearing or reading National’s announcement;

“Mentally ill New Zealanders need the Government to provide more of a commitment to them, not to abdicate all responsibility for them to foreign banks and big money investors.

National doesn’t care that the biggest stumbling block facing New Zealanders with a mental illness who want to work is discrimination. Having a big bank breathe down the neck of a social service provider, demanding outcomes so it can make a profit, isn’t going to make that discrimination go away.

The National Government has ignored the advice of the Department of Internal Affairs which warned investors will only want to put money into programmes that are certain to work – which completely defeats the purpose.

Social bonds are a continuation of National’s attempt to privatise public services, which will always see the most vulnerable left out and National’s mates better off. In two years of charter schools, not one has enrolled a student with the highest special needs.”

2. Reasurances made…

On 26 September last year, Tolley issued stern reassurances that there would be no outsourcing of front-line services;

Lisa Owen: “Can you rule out today that you won’t be outsourcing front-line care and protection services?”

Anne Tolley: “Look, let’s put it to rest. This is a state responsibility. There’s no talk within government at all of outsourcing that responsibility.”

3. And reassurances broken
Seven months later, on 9 April, on TV3’s ‘The Nation‘,  Tolley flip-flopped, and admitted that privatisation of some aspects of CYF was now likely;
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the nation - anne tolley interview - cyf

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Lisa Owen: “But here we have outsourcing, so how do you square that away? Because you were specifically talking about front-line staff.”

Anne Tolley: “So we’re not outsourcing care and protection. What the report talks about is two things – first of all, a partnership arrangement with NGOs and iwi and community organisations as we have currently, and secondly, being able to direct purchase the services that children need when they need. But that will still be the operating system; the responsibility for those children will still be held by government.”

Lisa Owen: “Yes, but you’re talking about people or services that have direct contact with these children. “

Anne Tolley: “Yes.”

Lisa Owen: “Psychologists is one of the examples you talk about.”

Anne Tolley: “Yes.”

Lisa Owen: “That is front-line services, so that is outsourcing.”

Anne Tolley: “Well, that’s no different from what we are now. What was being presumed last time was that we were going to contract some company to take responsibility for children in care. We’re not doing that. It is the government’s responsibility, and the whole focus of the expert panel’s report was a single point of accountability in government for the long-term outcomes of those vulnerable children.”

Lisa Owen: “So you say that using these people from outside agencies, NGOs, et cetera, that’s all about getting the best people?”

Anne Tolley: “Absolutely. Getting the best people for the children when they need it, that’s the whole— one of the major changes about what’s being proposed. At the moment, various people working with those children have to negotiate with all the different agencies, fit in with their criteria, and children wait in line. What we’re saying now, what Cabinet has accepted, is that we need to be able to purchase those services for those children when they need it, and it could well be from DHBs, it could well be from the education service itself, but it could be from NGOs, and it could be from private psychologists, et cetera.”

Tolley’s admission that CYF services would be outsourced/privatised was confirmed only days before her interview on The Nation, with this press release from her office;

“A new system will be in place by the end of March 2017 which will have high aspirations for all children and address their short and long-term wellbeing and support their transition into adulthood.

It will focus on five core services – prevention, intensive intervention, care support services, transition support and a youth justice service aimed at preventing offending and reoffending.

The overhaul, which is expected to take up to five years to be fully implemented, will include:

[…]

  • Direct purchasing of vital services such as health, education and counselling support to allow funding to follow the child, so that these young people can gain immediate access to assistance.”
Veteran interviewer, Lisa Owen asked the Minister about the problem of private-providers “cherry-picking easy cases” of  problem-children;

Lisa Owen: “But one of the concerns is that there is a risk of cherry-picking. You know, if you have a private provider, are they only going to take the easier kids? Because we know… The Nation’s been told of a situation this week where a private provider wouldn’t take a particular child because they said the case was just too tough… Will you stop that happening? … So will they lose their contract if they keep refusing to take tougher cases? one of the major concerns is that the too-hard basket will still be full and it will be CYF who deals with those people.”

Tolley’s reply was like a bombshell – and one that Lisa Owen apparently did not pick up on. In terms that were unusually unequivocal for a politician, the Minister  announced the impending demise of Child Youth and Family (CYF);

Anne Tolley: “Well, CYF is gone. You know, it’s finished. It’s gone. It hasn’t worked and we’re changing, so we’re now going to a system that works with children from prevention right through to transition.”

Further into the interview – and this is also a salient point – Lisa Owen asked the Minister;

Lisa Owen: Okay, there’s a couple of quick things I want to cover off. When you were last here, you said that you may well hire more social workers, but the report says you’re not going to significantly expand in-house delivery, so are you going to have more social workers or not?

In stark contrast to her definitive statement that “CYF is gone… you know, it’s finished… it’s gone“, Tolley’s response to whether or not there would be more front-line social workers seemed more noncommittal;

Anne Tolley: “Well, we’ll see. I can’t see we would be dealing with any less, but, remember, the panel have identified that a large part of the workload is the churn of children coming back through the system several times.”

Tolley’s plans to finish off CYF appears set in concrete. Despite being the  fourteenth restructuring in twenty eight years, CYF’s problems and failures are apparently “unsalvageable”. Or so Minister Tolley would have us believe.

3. The subversion of CYF

We can no longer have a system which sees social workers spending half their time on administration, and less than a quarter of their time actually working with kids and families.” – Anne Tolley,  7 April 2016

On 7 April this year, Minister for Social Development, Hon Anne Tolley, released a public statement accepting the report of the “Expert Panel on Modernising Child Youth and Family“.

Amongst the “Expert Panel’s” Terms of Reference, two main points were given priority, as made clear on pages 34 and 35;

Specifically, the Expert Panel was tasked with:

  • providing the Minister for Social Development with a programme level business case by 30
    July 2015, which was delivered to the Minister in the form of the Interim Report,

and

  • providing oversight and challenge on the development of a detailed business case and a high
    level assessment of options for a proposed future operating model, with any Budget
    decisions considered as part of Budget 2016 (this report, termed the Final Report).

Note the heavy reference to  “a programme level business case” and “development of a detailed business case“.

A more detailed version of the Terms of Reference can be found on pages 241 to 243 of the Final Report.

Nowhere in the Terms of Reference, nor in the latter Objectives is there any mention of poverty, low wages, high living costs, etc.

Indeed, in a critical review of the “Expert Panel’s” Final Report, the group Re-imagining Social Work In Aotearoa wrote;

On receiving the report  Investing in New Zealand’s Children and Their Families I used the very simple textual analysis technique of searching for the frequency of what I considered important words. Such a simple analysis does not necessarily create a window into the minds and thinking of the authors; however it does give some indications about what they consider important at least as measured by how frequently they talk about it.

In descending incidence of occurrence and not including the references and appendixes this is what my word count revealed:

Investment mentioned 240 times
Trauma mentioned 50 times
Love mentioned 36 times
Deprivation mentioned 4 times
Inequality mentioned 1 time
Poverty mentioned 1 time

Despite the often unspoken reality that the vast majority of return visit CYFS clients are poor, and that people on reasonable incomes seldom have long-term contact with CYFS, it seems that the authors of the report do not see poverty as having any great relevance to the business of CYFS. Given the truly astounding amount of data demonstrating clear links between poverty, deprivation and increased levels of neglect and abuse of children it seems an extraordinary oversight (Duva, Metzger, 2010; Wynd, 2013; Sedlak, Mettenburg, Basena, Petta, McPherson, Greene, & Li, 2010).

This seems even more the case when you consider the equally astounding amounts of data (Szalavitz, 2010; Murali & Oyebode, 2004) showing that poverty plays a causative role in many of the other factors associated with increased levels of child abuse and neglect: these are factors such as parental depression, poor mental health, high levels of family stress, insecure overcrowded and unhealthy housing, and increased levels of drug and alcohol abuse as self medication to manage misery (Brown, Cohen, Johnson & Salzinger, 2010).

None of this is news to social scientists, or to anybody who has spent any time at all working with abused and neglected children and their families. People have known this since the days of Dickens. It does not take a great leap of empathic imagination to understand that the fear, despair, and hopelessness created by trying to survive day to day without adequate resources are not useful additions to the tool box of good parenting.

The Final Report led to a raft of recommendations (see pages 20 – 33) but two (on page 21) stand out;

14.

Agree the future department will directly purchase specialist services for vulnerable children and
their families. If other Crown agencies or entities cannot provide them in a timely manner, the
future department will purchase from them, or pursue other sources. (Refer page 65).

15.

Agree the future department take a market building role to create capability, capacity and
supply of services required to meet the needs of vulnerable children and families. (Refer page
67).

“Directly purchase specialist services”, “market building role”, and “supply of services” are specifically what Tolley referred to on TV3’s The Nation on 9 April;

Lisa Owen: “But here we have outsourcing, so how do you square that away? Because you were specifically talking about front-line staff.”

Anne Tolley: “So we’re not outsourcing care and protection. What the report talks about is two things – first of all, a partnership arrangement with NGOs and iwi and community organisations as we have currently, and secondly, being able to direct purchase the services that children need when they need. But that will still be the operating system; the responsibility for those children will still be held by government.”

Lisa Owen: “Yes, but you’re talking about people or services that have direct contact with these children. “

Anne Tolley: “Yes.”

In justifying the outsourcing/privatisation of CYF services, the “Expert Panel” delivered to Minister Tolley a Final Report that presented CYF as a “basket-case”; a totally broken organisation. The term “fragmented” was used no less than thirteen times in the Final Report, to drive home the perception of an irreparably dysfunctional state agency.

This is the same Final Report that mentioned “deprivation  4 times”,  “inequality  1 time”, and  “poverty 1 time”.

It is hard to escape the suspicion that CYF – a government department dealing with “child abuse and neglect, parental depression, poor mental health, high levels of family stress, insecure overcrowded and unhealthy housing, and increased levels of drug and alcohol abuse as self medication to manage misery” – is being undermined and portrayed as itself dysfunctional and in need of radical “reform”.

The “reform”, it seems, consists of “toughlove” privatisation of services.

4. The gutting of CYF

During Lisa Owen’s interview with Tolley on  The Nation on 9 April, she asked the Minister if more social workers would be hired;

Lisa Owen: Okay, there’s a couple of quick things I want to cover off. When you were last here, you said that you may well hire more social workers, but the report says you’re not going to significantly expand in-house delivery, so are you going to have more social workers or not?

As if finding the simple question discomforting, Tolley responded vaguely;

Anne Tolley: “Well, we’ll see. I can’t see we would be dealing with any less, but, remember, the panel have identified that a large part of the workload is the churn of children coming back through the system several times.”

Sources have revealed to this blogger that MSD has been conducting a covert  “sinking lid” policy not to replace departing front-line social workers. This blogger understands that at least  one CYF branch lost at least a dozen front-line staff in the last twelve months. They were not replaced. Existing and new cases are passed on to remaining staff.

In an OIA request made to the Minister’s office on 13 April (and passed on to MSD) released information  appears to confirm the Ministry  has been shedding front-line social-workers from it’s ranks.

To establish a base-line for staffing levels, I first asked;

“How many social workers were employed by Child, Youth Family services in 2008?”

In a response dated 16 June (two months after my initial request), MSD replied that 1,175.8 full-time equivalent (FTE) staff were employed as “Field Social Work Line (FSWL) which is composed of social workers, senior practitioners, and supervisors“. By 2015, that number had increased to 1,349.9 full-time equivalent staff.

But by March this year, that number had fallen to 1,335.0 full-time equivalent staff.

The total number of full-time equivalent staff employed by Child Youth and Family at 2008 was 2,848.3, rising to 3,025.2 full-time equivalent staff in 2015 – and falling to 2,956.9 by March this year.

The MSD response also confirmed “that 147 FSWL have departed between April 2015 and March 2016“.

It is a stark contrast that as notifications to CYF have been steady increasing since 2008 (ref1, ref2), the numbers of front-line and other support staff at the department have fallen.

Which brought into question the case-load of front-line social workers. I asked;

What was the case-load, per CYF social worker in 2008? What was the case-load, per CYF social worker last year and   what is the current case-load, per CYF social worker?

The response was astonishing;

Due to the varying nature and complexities of cases it is not practical to set practice
benchmarks for closure. As you will appreciate, many cases are active over a period
of years and some cases, while not active, may not have yet been formally closed.
The Ministry is unable to provide the current case load per social worker and case
load per social worker in 2008 and 2015 as as this is not a standard reporting
procedure. Therefore, this part of your request is refused under section 18(e) of the
Official Information Act as the information does not exist.

It beggars belief that MSD  is unaware of the case-load of it’s social workers.  It also raises suspicions of ducking the question.

A May 2014 report from the Office of the Chief Social worker, (Workload and Casework Review – Qualitative Review of Social Worker Caseload, Casework and Workload Management, p84) stated;

According to Child, Youth and Family’s organisational caseload report of 31 August
2013, the average care and protection caseload was 14 families or 30 children and
young people per social worker. For youth justice social workers, the average
caseload was nine children and young people.”

The Workload and Casework Review can be found on the MSD website, and was launched by the Ministery’s Chief Executive, Brendan Boyle.

It seems inconceivable that a report commissioned by MSD; released by the Chief Executive; and containing information relating to case load for front line social workers was not available to Viv Rickard, the Ministry’s Deputy Chief Executive, who signed the OIA release.

However, the pertinent point from the Workload and Casework Review is that front-line social workers were over-worked with case-loads (p79);

4. The review found a number of care and protection social workers were holding
unreasonably high caseloads. Priority action needs to be taken to reduce caseloads
for these staff.

The recommendation;

d. As a priority, assess social workers’ caseloads and safely reduce those that are
unreasonably high.

That was two years ago.

Since then, the number of social workers has fallen, whilst notifications continue to rise. The Review by the Chief Social Worker appears to have been Filed and Forgotten.

This is exacerbated by MSD’s response to these follow-up questions;

How many CYF offices/branches lost social workers over the last twelve months? How many CYF offices/branches have not replaced departing social workers over the last twelve months?

MSD replied;

The Ministry is unable to provide you with the number of departing social workers
who have not been replaced or the number of offices which have not replaced
departing social workers over the last months as this is not a standard reporting
procedure. Therefore,  this part of your request is refused under section 18(e) of the
Official Information Act as the information does not exist.

Again, it seems inconceivable that the MSD is oblivious as to how many social workers have not been replaced over the last twelve months.

Social work is the core-business; the raison d’être of the Ministry of Social Development. How can it adequately measure and report it’s KPIs  (Key Performance Indicators) if it is unaware of it’s own staffing levels?

This response from MSD is utterly inadequate and reveals either a high level of incompetence on the part of  senior management – or a crude attempt to evade answering questions. If the latter, then MSD has broken the law by not following the Official Information Act.

My final question to MSD asked if there “was  a CYF policy not to replace social workers departing from CYF?

The answer was perhaps more revealing than the author of the letter intended;

There is no specific policy in place around replacing or not replacing departing social workers.”

At a time of increasing notifications; falling numbers of social workers; and increasing case-loads – which has led to the Minister Anne Tolley being highly critical of MSD – there is no “no specific policy in place around replacing… departing social workers”.

5. Consequences and Cunning Plans

When Tolley gave a blistering condemnation of CYF on The Nation on 9 April, she did not hold back;

“Well, CYF is gone. You know, it’s finished. It’s gone. It hasn’t worked and we’re changing, so we’re now going to a system that works with children from prevention right through to transition.”

Furthermore, in response to a point raised by Lisa Owen on privatisation;

Lisa Owen: “Because the thing is, when the Government went to private providers to manage some of other services, for example, when you got Serco in to look after some of our prisons, in this government press release that I’ve got here, actually, at the time, Judith Collins says— she gave the same justification that you’re giving now, that it was to access world-class innovation and expertise to get the highest standards of professionalism. Well, that didn’t work out, did it, so what’s to stop that happening in this case?”

Anne Tolley: “Well, first of all, we’re not in the least bit talking about big companies like Serco for this. Again, the thrust of this is keeping these kids in their communities, so you’re talking about local services. But are you seriously suggesting that we should continue? One of the outcomes from the current system is that these children wait in line until they can get into the health system, so are you seriously suggesting that that’s better for those kids than if there’s a private psychologist whose services can be purchased to give immediate help to that child who has been damaged and needs that care? I’m going to go every time with meeting the needs of that child when we need it, so that’s what the focus is – on meeting the needs of these children, having them at the centre of everything we do, rather than ideological agendas which say you’ve only got to deal with the health system, the public health system. Actually, let’s deal with whomever can provide. And if the health system can provide that, I have no doubt they’ll step up, as they have with ACC.”

Yet, it appears that one of the prime causes of CYF’s alleged under-performance has little to do with it’s structure.  The loss of skilled social workers and failure to replace their numbers at a time of increased notifications and demands placed on remaining front line staff have one predictable outcome: a down-grading of service.

Which then allows for the Minister to call for yet another “Review” which happens to offer recommendations that Paula Rebstock is noted for: privatisation (or “outsourcing”, to put a polite label on the same process).

Which brings us back to announcements made on 1 June, last year, when  National put social-services on the block as next  in it’s privatisation agenda;

Social bonds, in which the return for investors will be partially determined by whether or not agreed social targets have been achieved, will become another tool in the Government’s social investment approach that is aiming to improve the lives and prospects of the most vulnerable New Zealanders.

The degradation of CYF is not due to the social workers who are at the front-line of this country’s growing social problems – something even John Key was forced to concede was worsening  in 2011, and which is continuing to grow;

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key admits underclass still growing - poverty - foodbanks - homelessness

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If there is fault with CYF, it lies with a covert National government plan to hollow out the service; publicise it’s alleged “short-comings” through “reviews” with pre-determined outcomes; and then announce ‘solutions’ which involve privatisation/outsourcing and an “investment approach”. As Gordon Campbell  pointed out;

“Whenever the government announces an inquiry into a contentious matter, those reviews now routinely function as a tool of political management that’s been tailored to achieve a pre-determined outcome. Such inquiries have neither been set up nor are expected to result in a balanced re-appraisal of all the relevant issues. To that end, the terms of reference are usually conveniently narrow, and selective – and thus allow for the evidence to be then cherry-picked in line with the government’s desires and expectations. “

As usual, Paula Rebstock’s Expert Panel has executed it’s part in National’s secret agenda.

This was never about improving CYF. This was always about National’s maniacal ideological obsession with privatisation.  This time, there are none more vulnerable than the children and young people who will pay dearly for this cunning plan.

National has scrapped the bottom of the barrel with this one.

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“Young people have told me they don’t want the system to experiment with their lives.” – Anne Tolley

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Addendum1

Correspondence: OIA response from MSD – Staffing levels

Addendum2

Expert Panel on Modernising Child Youth and Family“:

Paula Rebstock (Chair)
Ms Rebstock has extensive governance experience and is Chair of the ACC Board, Chair of the Work and Income Board, Deputy Chair of KiwiRail, Chair of the Insurance and Savings Commission, a member of the University of Auckland Business School Advisory Board and a Director of Auckland Transport. She is also a Senior Lead Reviewer for the Performance Improvement Framework for the State Services Commission.

Commissioner Mike Bush
Commissioner Bush joined New Zealand Police in 1978 and has held a number of senior operational and administrative positions including Counties-Manukau District Commander, where he pioneered the Prevention First operating strategy. Commissioner Bush led significant operational changes to Police through the Policing Excellence programme. He was awarded the MNZM for his service as New Zealand Police’s South East Asian liaison officer following the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Peter Douglas
Mr Douglas has extensive senior management experience in both the public and private sectors. He was the principal Māori adviser at the Ministry of Social Development, a Senior Manager in business banking at Westpac and an adviser in the Prime Minister’s Department and Cabinet during the time of the 1992 Māori fisheries settlement. Mr Douglas is the Chief Executive of Te Ohu Kaimoana Māori Fisheries Trust.

Duncan Dunlop
Mr Dunlop has been Chief Executive of Who Cares? Scotland, an independent advocacy charity for young people in care, since January 2012. He has led the development of youth-work infrastructure and programmes in a range of environments from Lithuania and Ghana to the Balkans and across the UK.

Helen Leahy
Ms Leahy is Chief Executive for Te Pūtahitanga o Te Waipounamu, the South Island Whānau Ora Commissioning Agency, and a Specialist Advisor, Strategy and Influence, for Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.She has held several senior roles in Parliament including Chief of Staff of the Māori Party and SeniorMinisterial Advisor for the former Minister of Whānau Ora. A former high school teacher, Ms Leahyhas worked in a range of community sectors such as domestic violence, adolescent health anddevelopment, youth and women’s affairs.

Professor Richie Poulton
Professor Poulton is the Chief Science Advisor to the Ministry of Social Development and has led the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study at the University of Otago for the past 15 years. He is a Professor of Psychology, Co-Director of the National Centre for Lifecourse Research and Director of the Graduate Longitudinal Study. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand, and recipient of the RSNZ Dame Joan Metge Medal.

 

Addendum3

The chairperson of the so-called “Expert Panel”, Paula Rebstock, has been heavily criticised by the Ombudsman for a previous investigation/report she carried out in 2012 regarding leaks from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Rebstock’s report, attacking the reputations of two senior State servants, Derek Leask and Nigel Fyfe, was released the following year.

Complaints were laid with the Ombudsman who found that that Rebstock’s report into the leaks were “unfair, flawed and caused significant damage to a former diplomat and senior public servant“.

One of the former senior diplomats, Derek Leask, was justifiably angry at the way he had been pilloried by Rebstock;

“It is good to have the slur on my reputation removed. Today’s findings by the Ombudsman go beyond the vindication of my actions. The Ombudsman’s report suggests that the 2012/2013 SSC investigation was out of control from start to finish.”

Despite the 2012/13 flawed report being damned by the Ombudsman, Minister Tolley has announced no plans to review the more recent Rebstock’s report on CYF;

Dame Paula also spearheaded a major report into Child Youth and Family (CYF), for which she was paid $2000 a day, double the normal maximum fee.

That review is now being used as a basis for an overhaul of CYF and the government has no plans to review her work in this area before restructuring begins.

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley, who had wanted to pay her $3000 a day, said Dame Paula did a fantastic job which would deliver better long-term results for vulnerable children.

There is therefore no guarantee that Rebstock’s CYF review is, in itself, also not flawed.

Acknowledgement

I acknowledge and thank the person who brought the critical matter of CYF’s under-staffing to my attention. Whilst keeping the identity of the “whistle-blower” confidential, I will continue to look into this  problem at every opportunity.

Postscript

This blogger will be laying a complaint with the Ombudsman’s Office at the length of time for this OIA request to be answered. Fortyfour days is well outside the 20 working-days stipulated in the Official Information Act. Also, a question will be raised whether or not some of the answers were factually correct.

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References

Beehive.govt.nz: Budget 2015 – Social bond to focus on mental health

Green Party: Mentally ill NZers are not a cash cow for National’s mates

TV3 News: The Nation – Transcript – Anne Tolley

TV3 News:  ‘CYF’s is gone, it hasn’t worked’ – Tolley

TVNZ: ‘It’s time for a clean break – CYF is gone’ says Anne Tolley

Beehive.govt.nz: Radical changes to child protection and care

MSD: Expert Panel Final Report – Investing in New Zealand’s Children and their Families

Re-imagining Social Work In Aotearoa: The absent elephant in the 2016 ‘Modernising Child, Youth and Family Expert Panel Report’

MSD: Social work services to children, young people and their families – Notifications

MSD: Notifications

MSD: Workload and Casework review – Qualitative Review of Social Worker Caseload, Casework and Workload Management

NZ Herald: Key admits underclass still growing

NewstalkZB: Demand for food banks, emergency housing much higher than before recession

State Services Commission: Paula Rebstock appointed to investigate Cabinet paper leak

State Services Commission: Report to the State Services Commissioner on Unauthorised disclosure of Information

Fairfax media: Damning inquiry points finger at the Government, State Services Commissioner

Radio NZ: Rebstock MFAT inquiry errors not terminal, says PM

Additional

MSD: Investing in New Zealand’s Children and Their Families

Office of the Children’s Commissioner: State of Care 2016 Report

Ministry of Social Development: Workload and Casework review – May 2014

Treasury: Budget 2008 Vote Social Development

Treasury: Budget 2009 Vote Social Development

Treasury: Budget 2010 Vote Social Development

Treasury: Budget 2011 Vote Social Development

Treasury: Budget 2012 Vote Social Development

Treasury: Budget 2013 Vote Social Development

Treasury: Budget 2014 Vote Social Development

Treasury: Budget 2015 Vote Social Development

Treasury: Budget 2016 Vote Social Development

Related blogposts

No Right Turn: Paula Rebstock should pay for this

Polity: Decrypting “social investment”

Pundit: Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the Leask of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me

The Daily Blog: What’s that? – choke, splutter! – Dame Paula Rebstock???

The Standard: No accountability under Key

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell on the Ombudsman’s verdict on Paula Rebstock and Ian Rennie

Previous related blogposts

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment – the social welfare safety net

Johnny’s Report Card – National Standards Assessment y/e 2012 – inequality & poverty

Budget 2013: State Housing and the War on Poor

“You Break It, We Fix It” – Is That How It Works?

On ‘The Nation’ – Anne Tolley Revealed

Child Poverty: Labour on track

Letter to the editor – Key suggests private providers for children in CYF services?!

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23 COMMENTS

  1. Great deconstruct Frank,

    Please consider the big picture adding to our local issues, as we are now under the control of foreign forces today.

    You have exposed one of our local Government agencies with the evidence of slow deliberate privatisation of state agencies CIFs, as being just one of many others, such as Kiwirail, Schools, Housing, Energy, and more.

    Finance Minister says;
    “Social bonds, in which the return for investors will be partially determined by whether or not agreed social targets have been achieved, will become another tool in the Government’s social investment approach that is aiming to improve the lives and prospects of the most vulnerable New Zealanders.”
    “The Government is focused on achieving better results for individuals and families in highest need,” Finance Minister Bill English says.
    “Where we succeed, there are opportunities to help people fulfil their potential, a chance to break inter-generational cycles of dependency and, in the long term, potential savings for taxpayers.
    “So social bonds are a consistent fit with our wider social investment approach which aims to better understand both the drivers and risks of social dysfunction and where we can have the greatest impact in improving people’s lives.”
    “Dr Coleman says social bonds are an innovative way for the Government to contract social outcomes. They will see private and public sector organisation operating together to fund and deliver services”

    Those statements by those three ministers clearly depicts a privatisation agenda.

    All lucking behind this deep dark money generating privatisation model is Steven Joyce pulling the levers for PM Key who has been directed by another controlling body possibly The Bilderberg Group, as they are the master modelers of the ultimate model of the one world order under the installation of the global trade/corporate /control agreements known as TPPA/TTIP and the construct of the Asian/African Trade agreement still in final construct.

    Now as we witness the struggle of the EU commission coldly ramping up the pressure is pushing Great Britain out of the EU for voting to “leave” and it is easy to see under the “cold response” from these six original West European counties who set up the EU project that they were part of the united EU plan that was first hatched bin 1943 by members of the NAZI Party as a new method of control should Germany loose the war.

    Remains of this element are certainly now very much alive with the advent of these deeply controlled “Trade agreements being pushed by this EU commission.

    The economic modelling by this Bilderberg Group is at the heart of plans to push privatisation across every corner of the globe and is now being pushed by MBIE onto CIFS and every other former Governmental agency in our land of NZ and all other countries as the final tentacles of global Elitist corporate control is completed.

    THIS IS HOW BIG THE WHOLE PICTURE IS GOING FORWARD AS THIS FINANCIAL WAR SPREADS. Colman, Tolley, English, Joyce, & Key are only foot solders in this whole plan of the Elite and The Bilderberg group of completing total global dominance.

  2. +1. When I first heard about ‘social bonds’ I though it was a joke. Sadly this government seems determined to steal and privatise as much as possible and the most vulnerable are the easiest targets.

    Since inequality is growing, what better place than for the .1% to make even more profit from the most vulnerable kids? We see that UK based Serco has been so successful in prisons. Likewise, UK based Compass are model employers. sarc.

    Under neoliberalism, mothers already are forced out of hospitals within a few hours for normal delivery. People are living in tents with newborns due to being too scared to reveal to authorities they are homeless in case their baby is taken away. People’s travel on a bus per week in Auckland is nearly 10% of their minimum income, the ‘daily rate’ of power (before you draw power itself) is $30 – $75 per month, social housing is being sold or empty and those most vulnerable can not get into social housing leaving them to go to private rents which are not designed to house vulnerable people on limited incomes.

    Having children is hard enough, without being poor, desperate, close to homelessness and with potentially other issues (violence, literacy, mental or physical illness or just plain bad luck (being made redundant) etc.

    The system is failing. But what a joke, giving a business some profit to some how ‘solve’ this problem is the Natz answer. How about giving the ‘profit’ and the ‘consultancy fees’ and all the other waste of money to the system to actually get more social workers, pay them better, give vulnerable people social housing, an inflation/wages tracked benefit, do not penalise DPB people so they can have relationships that might give their family more support? etc etc.

    Oh but that will deny some crony, some chance for future profit ‘growth’, out of someones misfortune and the middle class can pay for it all, win win and turn them against the poor.

  3. poor always suffer in a depression look at the 1930 this is the way it is nothing can be done.
    the truth is dangerous our economy is on the ropes the truth could cause damage to an already fragile system.
    whistle blowers feel there doing good but there not.
    the use of uncensored ill advised information is economic vandalism and should be made criminal in my view.
    the way information should presented to the world should reflect the way new Zealand should be seen ,not the the way it is, a debt ridden corrupt divided broke nation .but when those rose colored john key loving VR glasses are put on i see the world in true key vision broadcast straight from planet john key.

    • Depressions aren’t something that just happens to an economy like an earthquake. They’re created by the system. Clearly something is wrong with neoliberalism.

  4. Clever little game does the National Party play. Starve CYFS of sufficient funding, bring in social policies that will only make things worse, let it play out over a few years until it reaches a publicly untenable position, then get rid of the model and bring in publicly funded private organisations to cash in large and blame the underfunded organisation for Nationals stuff up. How many well-connected National Party people are about to do well out of this latest taxpayer largesse?

    I certainly know for sure that underfunding of CYFS accompanied by them having to wear the negative results of Nationals abysmal social policy have caused untold problems with that organisation meeting their goals.

    Under Nationals new plan you can just see stat rigging and a free for all cooking of the books by bond holders. I recall SERCO having the most outstanding results ever, ever at Mt Eden, until someone scratched the surface and found the place a circus that was completely the opposite of what their dazzling statistics had claimed. No person was held responsible for that corporate fraud!

    The trouble is, this new model will not change anything for the better unless substantial funding increases are made that go directly TO those in need, i.e. not into profits for private enterprise. And of course no extra money will go into the kids. nd as National have found, you can bullshit a lot of issues away but as the homeless and destitute numbers grow there are simply some things no bullshit can hide. And needy kids are exactly the same!

    I doubt the likes of Anne Tolley could ever look back over their lives given the opportunities they had to make a real positive contribution to society and honestly look themselves in the mirror and say they did, and be even more honest and acknowledge they made it worse.

    • Prisons’ (and society’s) social problems are contained within their walls and private providers like Serco are easy to spot if they stuff up, for example with the fight-clubs in prisons.

      Privately run CYFs via NGO’s, EIEIO’s and IDK’s is a social disaster waiting to happen. The social problems so ably dealt with by a properly funded CYFS, will be outsourced to private providers, who will bid for the work and try to turn a profit, or a dividend to their government masters.

      Unlike prisons, the social problems associated with CYFs cases are not contained or restrained in one spot. Every city, every neighborhood, every school will bulge with the victims of 30 odd years of neoliberalism, mothers of all budgets, rampant underfunding and sinking lids. They are children, young people and their familes. Fellow kiwis fallen on hard times.

      Where’s the trickle down promised by neoliberals like Sir Roger Douglas? Where’s the funds from selling off half our power companies to “MADI’s”? Where’s the heart gone in Godzone’s Aotearoa?

      National, United Future, Maori Party and ACT – where’s the trickle down benefits of 30 odd years of pain and suffering? Brexit told Cameron and his neoliberal Tories where to shove their failed economic theories.

      National, United Future, Maori Party and ACT – your turn soon. And it can’t come soon enough. Why don’t you call an early election and put your economic prowess to the best binding vote of all?

  5. Astounding investigation, Frank. It’s a lengthy read, but it vividly tells the story what is happening in CYF and the ministry’s pathetic attempt to cover their arses.

    You’ve well and truly exposed the “cunning plan” as you put it to privatise aspects of CYF.

    This is what we don’t get from the msm (Radio NZ excepted, of course).

  6. Thank you for another meticulously researched and referenced post Frank! I’ll have more to say about the substance once I’ve had a look at some of the source material… And this dull red throbbing in my temples subsides.

  7. Thanks Frank, what is worse?

    The ease which which this government and it ministers can lie?

    Or the fact as you last few post suggest, that this national government has notched up a few gears on the hard right ideological purity?

  8. About two months ago I had the misfortune of listening to a high-powered CYFs bureaucrat talk up the ‘Modernising CYFs’ strategy. She used the word ‘investment’ about 100 times within her 50 mins, but never explained what the investment was, or how it would happen.

    The ideologues are not just from above (National, Labour etc), but they’re also embedded in our rotten institutions. Bland talk of modernising and investment is spouted off everywhere, and those who talk the talk, get rewarded for it.

    CYFs is completely broken, but the last thing they need is economic modernisation (more Blairite & Thatcherite solutions). Our current PM got into power by promising to reduce the economic investment into social services – go read his speeches from 2007 and 2008. It’s as clear as day. He was always going to increase poverty (which is no mean feat considering the levels of poverty that existed when he came to power).

    The goal of the left must be to eliminate the need for these social services – prisons, WINZ, CYFs etc. They’re ambulance at the bottom of the cliff solutions, and therefore they’re not solutions at all.

    Our social services need to be overhauled in conjunction with a major shift away from neoliberalism. If the former happens without the latter, then nothing changes. If Labour get in and continue with a neoliberal framework, then the changes to CYFs etc will be patch-jobs (ineffective and easily repealed).

    We need some radical solutions, not just neoliberalism with a human face. But here’s the thing, the solutions aren’t even that radical. We could begin with a human rights perspective – the right to housing, the right to being free from poverty, the right to dignity. These are in the same UN legislation that we draw upon to drop bombs on poor countries.

    It’s ironic that the only UN human right we seem to care about is the right to own property (article 17). But that right, if not heavily regulated and controlled, denies people of their other human rights.

    The root causes of our social ills need to be addressed. Creating institutions to address the symptoms of our socio-economic system will always fail. CYFs and WINZ are brutal oppressive institutions, no matter how nice we make them

  9. Thanks for your hard and thorough work for all of us, Frank – brilliant as usual. Would deserve a knighthood except that those are now being used for another purpose : to acknowledge those who don’t deserve such a thing.

    “So social bonds are a consistent fit with our wider social investment approach which aims to better understand both the drivers and risks of social dysfunction and where we can (then) have the greatest impact in (worsening) people’s lives.”

    Only one word added and one word changed.

    Isn’t that what they’re really aiming at?

  10. Thanks for your hard and thorough work for all of us, Frank – brilliant as usual. Would deserve a knighthood except that those are now being used for another purpose : to acknowledge those who don’t deserve such a thing.

    “So social bonds are a consistent fit with our wider social investment approach which aims to better understand both the drivers and risks of social dysfunction and where we can (then) have the greatest impact in (worsening) people’s lives.”

    Only one word added and one word changed.

    Isn’t that what they’re really aiming at?

  11. Dear Anne Tolley
    You say CYFS is broken and gone. That’s nice.

    That the new model is for the purchase of various services sort of ‘straight off’. No waiting, so these most vulnerable etc etc people get what they need blah and so.

    That’s nice, too.

    So where, Mrs Tolley, is this stash of experts and qualified people? Mostly in cities? In your imagination? And what lets you and the exCYFS kids jump the queue over other equally desperate and untreated people? We’re talking about a scarce and diminishing resource here in NZ.

    Pay for them to go to Aus, eh? But this isn’t cancer, dear. This is years and years of meticulous care and follow through. I know you’ll know this: what’s the price tag per intervention? Is it cheaper than now? Or just money to a company?

    Along with this wonderful story – have you talked to the training agencies/universities? You have?! Oh, that’s all right then. And when will the extra cohorts of trained social workers and psychologists and teachers and so many others all be coming on stream? Will you let them off the hideously expensive student loans so they are willing to stay?

    You hadn’t thought so far?

    Of course not, dear. ‘The market’ is notorious for its short termism. Just like politicians.

    Now, if you’d tell Iain Rennie to do his job and clean up the mumble that is MSD/WMD, and you go back to simply cutting ribbons, we can save lives and dollars.

    At all times bear in mind the following maxim: “If you’re a great rule-follower who suddenly is placed in charge of making rules and decisions, you may well freeze up in your new role or gum up the productivity of everyone else.” (L Peter).

    Congratulations. You did it.

    Now, move on.

  12. National’s solution for protecting our most vulnerable children is to turn to market forces – the same market forces responsible for making them vulnerable in the first place.
    We simply cannot allow this to happen.

  13. Because of the asset-stripping “thefts” of state owned enterprises such as Power Companies, there’s no money or income, apart from taxes to pay for social safety nets such as CYF’s.

    It’s basically privatising social responsibilities.

    There should be an immediate vote of no-confidence in this government on this CYF’s issue alone.

    “I will lead a Government that governs for all New Zealanders” is what Key said on his election night speech. ” Yeah right!

  14. Frank you are more through than the whole of the NZ MSM put together…great work, but sad it is so.
    From this whole CYFs debacle, I fear only further, pain, anguish and death for the innocent and powerless.
    This Nat government has so much blood on their hands, it’s really NOT funny.

  15. Frank, my partner is a Psychologist who has been asked to do work for various CYF cases over the past few years. She is incredible talented and dedicated to ensuring the people affected receive the best support and help available. Families of young people involved with CYF’S have asked specifically for her. Why should she not be used by CYF to help?

  16. Thank you! This was a rare treat, quite lovely to read a straight, factual, in-depth report of an important ongoing phenomenon.

    Just one quibble, about one word in “National’s maniacal ideological obsession with privatisation.”

    I see no ideology here, just simple greed and crookedness. Payoffs for their team, at our expense, implemented by inserting unnecessary layers of middlemen into a transaction.

    What was once a simple process of paying taxes to an elected government that then supplied needed services becomes a long string of transactions with near zero accountability either to those who pay or those who need the service.

    Same as with electricity supply, Council “Controlled” Organisations, etc.

    Is there some subtlety here that I’ve missed seeing, that can elevate privatisation from being simply looting to the status of an ideology?

  17. All this waffle doesn’t avoid the fact that us taxpayers are sponsoring drop-kicks to have families they can’t afford and many subsequently abuse.

    We learned from Treasury last week that 40% of households in NZ effectively pay no tax. They get a free ride off the rest of us.

    If National wants my vote at the next election they need to present me with a plan to curtail the excess fertility of the bottom 10% of society because I’m sick of paying for their welfare, medical, policing, court fees and subsequent imprisonment.

    • I see you’re still obssessed with other people’s fertility, Andrew.

      Have you thought it through, that perhaps income is insufficient to live on and raise a family? That what you’re suggesting is class-eugenics, where only the well-off have kids?

      Or is that getting into too-complex territory for you?

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