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'Politicians asked to promise Kiwi kids in care a childhood they want to remember'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

An advocacy organisation amplifying the voices of the more than 6,000 Kiwi children in the state care system is calling for politicians to make 6 promises that will provide stability and a sense of belonging to care-experienced children.

VOYCE - Whakarongo Mai developed 6 promises in consultation with care-experienced rangatahi who know first-hand what children in care should expect from the care system and those who raise them. These are promises all parents would want to make to their children if they should ever need the care system.

Tupua Urlich, Youth Advocate at VOYCE - Whakarongo Mai, grew up in the care system and says, "These are things that most of us take for granted and assume every child in New Zealand has, but this isn’t always the reality."

"I attended 9 schools in 12 years and lived in more towns than I could count. Teachers and caregivers often have low educational expectations of children in care too, which hinders our learning opportunities," he says.

A report by Oranga Tamariki found that care-experienced children are 7-10 times more likely than their peers to have changed schools three times or more.

Tracie Shipton, CEO at VOYCE - Whakarongo Mai, says it hopes all New Zealand elected representatives will sign the 6 promises for 6,000 that centre around providing stability for all Kiwi children.

"It’s about ensuring the care system becomes a truly caring system that ensures that no matter the circumstance, Kiwi kids get a fair chance to do great things with their life.

"We know from talking to our National Youth Council that the biggest thing care-experienced children crave is a sense of belonging and identity, and these promises make that a priority," she says.

VOYCE - Whakarongo Mai will be launching a petition on Action Station on 10 September and inviting members of the public sign in support of the more than 6,000 children in care.

VOYCE - Whakarongo Mai is an independent charity that was established in 2017 by children with care experience to advocate for children living in foster or whanau care in New Zealand.

The 6 promises are as follows:

I promise New Zealand will honour its duty of parental care to you and provide for you.

I promise to prioritise stability for you throughout your life.

I promise you will be given the support and means to participate and pursue your education goals and aspirations.

I promise that you will have timely access to the health services you need.

I promise to ensure you have a say in all the decisions made about you while in care.

I promise to support you to develop your identity, know your whakapapa and grow your sense of self.

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