'Rolls Royce' interventions for NZ's most vulnerable children

A new Government ministry which will replace CYFS is to use the very latest behavioural science to offer greater protection for New Zealand's most vulnerable children.

A professor says NZ's neglected children deserve nothing but the "Rolls Royce" of interventions. Source: Sunday

Professor Richie Poulton, a member of the Government's advisory panel which designed the blueprint for the as-yet-to-be-named new ministry, told Sunday abused and neglected children deserve nothing but the 'Rolls Royce' of interventions not the "junkie old bomb" service they have been getting.

He says the good news is there are interventions which do work.

Professor Poulton, who heads the world renowned Dunedin Study, says it is clear the new system should be aiming to nip trouble in the bud long before there is the slightest suggestion that a child might need to be taken into care.

That, he says, means focusing resources on children's lives from conception to primary school. Early intervention, he says, will produce the greatest long term benefit.

Data from the 44-year-long Dunedin Study shows that child abuse and neglect can trigger a lifetime of violence, poor health and relationships for the children involved, with the likelihood that they will have difficulty parenting well themselves.

Professor Poulton told Sunday reporter John Hudson he believes New Zealand can repair its "broken" system of child care and protection but it will take good leadership, the right people with the right skills working at the "coal-face" and long term support from politicians.

The new ministry is expected to be up and running by March next year.

More on SUNDAY from 7pm on TV ONE.