Team to protect at-risk children

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 09:58 25/06/2014

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A children's team to help protect vulnerable and at-risk children will be in place from November, Nelson Marlborough District Health Board says.

The Blenheim/Picton team is one of eight to be rolled out nationwide during the next year to help transform New Zealand's child protection system.

National children's director at the social development ministry Sue Maxwell has appointed implementation support manager Sam Cliffe, who has met with the board and interested stakeholders in Blenheim and Picton.

The development of the team began on June 13 and it will go live on November 3.

Discussions revealed elements of the team have to be nationally consistent and other elements will be influenced by the Blenheim/Picton geographical area.

A leaders meeting is scheduled this week, from which the governance group and some of the infrastructure should start to emerge.

The work done by the Marlborough Initiative - a group set up by Marlborough district councillor Jessica Bagge, bringing social agencies together to work out ways to collaborate to protect children from birth - had led to Marlborough being selected for an early children's team.

Speaking at a health meeting at Marlborough Convention Centre last week Nelson Marlborough Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming said the speed of development had been exciting and challenging.

"The Blenheim/Picton locality will be a great place to develop the team as there is already considerable intersectoral activity through the many initiatives in place within the district," Fleming said. "We will show Nelson Tasman how to do it."

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said children's teams were a key part of the Government's Children's Action Plan to reduce child abuse and neglect.

The team will work with the child and maternity integration pilot project which began in the health board in January.

The Ministry of Health awarded the board $580,000 to integrate a range of core services to support women, children and whanau (family). The two-year programme aims to make it easier for families to access health and social services.

An outline plan has been developed for establishing a shared resource centre in Blenheim.

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- The Marlborough Express

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