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New report shows stubborn barriers to good health for children and young people in State care

New report shows stubborn barriers to good health for children and young people in State care

A new report by Aroturuki Tamariki | Independent Children’s Monitor takes a close look at how well children and young people in State care can access primary health services.

The report relates to the National Care Standards (NCS), which set minimum requirements for all children and young people in care. This includes the responsibility of Oranga Tamariki to ensure all children and young people in care have annual health and dental checks, and are enrolled in a Primary Health Organisation (PHO).

The NCS also state that healthcare services must be culturally appropriate, in line with the right of all children to have equitable experiences and outcomes from public services and the rights of mokopuna Māori rite tahi under Article Three of Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Released today, Access to Primary Health Services and Dental Care finds pockets of good practice across the motu, while identifying stubborn barriers that mokopuna in care and their caregivers face in accessing a doctor or dentist.

Chief Children’s Commissioner Dr Claire Achmad says the focus of the report on access of children and young people to primary health and dental care is important, given the lifetime impact that these things have on them.

“This report shows there have been some improvements, but too many children and young people in State care are still missing out on fully experiencing their basic right to health. This is a right that all children have under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child,” she says.

The report finds that 93% of children in care are enrolled with a PHO and there is willingness of healthcare workers to do what they can to help enable access to their services for children and young people in care, such as fast-tracking oral surgery and taking on new patients even when at capacity.

The report also outlines how local strategic partnerships between Oranga Tamariki and iwi and kaupapa Māori social services, such as that with Te Tohu o te Ora o Ngāti Awa, can make a practical, positive difference in the lives of mokopuna in care.

However, it shows barriers to access remain, including a lack of comprehensive Oranga Tamariki data about access of children and young people to annual health and dental checks and whether enrolments with PHOs result in these checks, and access to healthcare that meets cultural needs.

“I’m particularly concerned about access for all children and young people in care to annual health and dental checks. I’d like to see Oranga Tamariki being able to provide assurance that these critical checks are occurring for every child and young person in care, so that future health and dental issues can be prevented.

“This has both short-term and lifetime positive impacts for children and young people, and I expect to see every child and young person in care having access to these checks and data that backs this up, alongside whole-of-system approaches addressing underlying inequities in health outcomes,” says Dr Achmad.

The report notes a lack of data to about whether mokopuna in care are being offered healthcare that meets their cultural needs, an NCS that is important for equity.

“For mokopuna Māori, right now they make up a large proportion of the care population, and that’s why iwi and Māori partnerships that support their cultural needs to be met in the primary health space are particularly crucial.”

Dr Achmad says Mana Mokopuna – Children and Young People’s Commission wants to see greater consistency across Oranga Tamariki practice and clear culture and expectation setting to ensure social workers are collecting information about and regularly checking on the health and dental care of mokopuna in care, alongside strengthening a whole-of-system approach for the health of these mokopuna. Having better information will help those across the wider care and health systems to work together so that all mokopuna in care can access health services.

“Access to primary health and dental services has both short-term and lifetime impacts, and a considerable preventative effect. All children and young people, including those in care, have a right to have their holistic health needs met so they can stay well and live their best lives.”

 

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