Children's Action Plan & Vulnerable Children Act 2014

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Protecting New Zealand’s children is everyone’s responsibility.

We're part of a cross-agency effort to prevent child abuse and neglect.

We're involved in and committed to various measures being put in place under the Vulnerable Children Act 2014 and the Children’s Action Plan, which aim to keep children safe and ensure their needs are met.

Vulnerable Children Act 2014 (external link)

Children’s Action Plan (external link)

The new measures are being phased in over several years. The ones most relevant to the Ministry, the people it provides services to and the organisations it works with are:

In some cases, these initiatives bring in new requirements for various agencies, organisations and roles.

We also encourage everyone – including those not within the scope of the Act – to follow best practices and principles for protecting children and when employing people who work with them. Useful information about best practice (such as the 'Safer recruitment, Safer Children' guide for choosing safe people to work with children) is available on the Children’s Action Plan website (external link)

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Child protection policies

We want the people who work with children and families/whānau to recognise when something isn’t right and act to help prevent abuse and neglect.

A child protection policy guides staff on how to identify and report child abuse and neglect. It also helps build a strong culture of child protection within an organisation to keep children safe and ensure their needs are met.

Under the Vulnerable Children Act, certain State services that deliver children’s services and providers they fund and/or contract deliver such services must have child protection policies.

Child protection policies must be in place as soon as practicable. Many organisations and providers already have such policies in place. In those cases, we encourage them to review and – if need be – revise their policies to ensure best practice.

For more information, see child protection policies (external link)

We've also adopted a child protection policy:

Child protection policy [PDF, 478 KB]

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Safety checking

The Act is changing the way people who work closely with children are checked. Employers are responsible for safety checking their employees.

The new checking process will make it easier to identify the small number of people who are a risk to children.

It applies from:

  • 1 July 2015 for all core workers who are starting a new role. Core workers are people who are regularly in charge of or work alone with children, in jobs paid or funded by state sector agencies.
  • 1 July 2016 for all new non-core workers.
  • 1 July 2018 for all existing core workers and 1 July 2019 for all existing non-core workers.

The required safety checking process is outlined in the Vulnerable Children (Requirements for Safety Checks of Children’s Workers) Regulations 2015 (external link)

For more information about safety checks (including advice for interpreting and applying the regulations, and best practice advice on recruiting people who work with children), go to safety checking and the workforce restriction (external link)

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Workforce restrictions on core worker roles

The Vulnerable Children Act prohibits people with specific serious convictions, such as child abuse, sexual offending and/or violence convictions, from being employed as a core worker. Employers can be charged with an offence under the Vulnerable Children Act if they breach the workforce restriction.

From 1 July 2015, organisations are unable to take on people with convictions for those offences in new core worker roles. From 1 July 2016, the workforce restriction also applies existing core workers.

For more information, see workforce restriction (external link)

However, people with these convictions may apply for an exemption, which will allow them work as a core worker.

For more information, see applying for a core worker exemption (external link)

If you want to apply for an exemption, please contact the Registrar of the Court where you were sentenced. You will need to request a copy of the sentencing notes relating to your VCA specified offence. The sentencing notes will provide you with all the offence details you need to put into the application form. You should also provide a copy of the sentencing notes when submitting an application for an exemption to give the decision maker the context of the offence.

To contact the Registrar call 0800COURTS or go in person to the relevant court.

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New care & protection provisions in the courts

The Children’s Action Plan introduces new care and protection provisions in the courts to keep children safe and help them to thrive.

It’s expected these provisions will start being used in the Family Court in mid-2016.

Amendments to the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 introduce greater protection for children born to parents, where a child has been previously removed due to abuse or neglect or has died as a result of a culpable act.

For more information, see subsequent children (external link)

New special guardianship orders under the Children, Young Persons, and Their Families Act 1989 will allow the rights of birth parents to be limited in the child’s best interests for some children in a Home for Life placement.

For more information, see limit guardianship (external link)

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