We advocate for the interests, rights and wellbeing of children and young people

The State of Care report is an annual summary from our independent monitoring of Child, Youth and Family’s policies, practices and services. It includes feedback from children and young people about their experiences in the system.

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About the report

The 2016 report is focused on what it means to be child-centred. We hope that it provides some clarity about what it means to work in child-centred ways. The report offers some practical suggestions for how CYF can start to be more consistently child-centred now, even in the context of the major up-coming reforms.

What we learnt from our monitoring - summary

In 2015-16, we found that while CYF has many child-centred policies and strategies in place, they are not consistent in practice.

We did find some examples of positive practice and strengths that can be drawn on. Residences are moving in the right direction, although from different starting points – an encouraging improvement since our last State of Care report from 2015. Reassuringly, most of the children and young people we engaged with were happy with their current care arrangements.

Nevertheless, the overall picture across our findings is one of considerable variability in the quality of CYF’s services for children and young people. CYF is not sufficiently child-centred, and the result is a system that often does not serve children and young people well.

  • CYF’s case management is not sufficiently child-centred
  • CYF residences are moving in the right direction, from very different starting points
  • Children and young people want to belong, be listened to, and be supported by social workers


  • Recommendation 1: Plan to reduce the risk to children and young people of a dip in performance during the transition period
  • Recommendation 2: Develop a clear understanding of child-centred practice in the particular cultural and organisational context of the New Zealand care and protection and youth justice systems.
  • Recommendation 3: Empower and support staff now to strengthen their child-centred practice

Voices of children

As part of our monitoring we talk to children and young people in the care system about their experiences. The State of Care 2016 report reflects the views, opinions and concerns of these young people.

More information is available in part 2 of the report.








Our monitoring framework

Since our inception, we have monitored the policies and practices of CYF.

We are mandated to carry out this function under the Children's Commissioner's Act.

In late 2013 we developed a new framework. We wanted to ensure that our monitoring was as effective as possible within the constraints of our mandate and our limited resources.

The new framework  aims to support a continuous learning culture in CYF, and encourages the sharing and implementation of best practice across the organisation.

In developing our new framework, we agreed what constitutes good practice with CYF, so when we engage with staff on our visits, and give feedback on their performance, we are working from a shared understanding of what best practice looks like.

The evaluative rubric for our revised monitoring framework is available in the box below.

Read the Monitoring Framework