Social Development Minister Anne Tolley has launched a new set of resources to help young people and adults to understand foster care.
The resources have been co-designed by young people because fostering should be centred on the people in care. Young people had input into the language used, the messages given and the relevance of messages.
Mrs Tolley said that the new Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki also had to have the voices of young people at its core.
“What I’ve found when talking to young people is that they’re very honest, they’re very direct and they know what they want. They’re saying stop experimenting with our lives. They’re saying when we move from family to family it’s their lives at risk while people are trying to sort out all the adult’s problems”, said Mrs Tolley.
“The new resources reflect that we don’t work in isolation”, says David Hanna, Director of Wesley Community Action. “We need to partner with the communities we work in. That’s our principals and schools, the whanau of young people in care and Child Youth and Family”.
“These resources are a statement that our young people are at the centre of everything we do. This holds us to account and broadens that accountability to everyone involved in a young person’s life”, says Mr Hanna.
It covers the work Wesley does and the rights, roles and responsibilities that everyone needs to know. This includes young people, foster parents, social workers, whanau and others.
Mr Hanna acknowledges the power adults have and that this needs to shift to young people in care and to whanau.
“We know from our years of experience in this line of work that if we take the time to listen very carefully to our kids and we listen to their families they will tell us what’s going to work for them. It’s not that they haven’t said this before to others, it’s just that we are being very intentional about hearing that message. We then work alongside them to turn that into an action. We show that we’ve heard them”, says Mr Hanna.
Wesley Community Action provides Te Waka Kotahi, a foster care programme contracted by the Ministry of Social Development.