Housing (in care)
This needs assessment, published in June 2023, provides an overview of the housing needs of children and young people in care, their families, whānau and caregivers.
It’s the second in a series of housing-focused assessments. Because the housing needs and experiences of children and young people in care are dependent on those they live with, this assessment focuses on the needs of children and young people, their families, whānau, and caregivers.
Understanding housing need
A safe, warm, dry home is one of the foundations of health and wellbeing, and for children and young people, it’s likely to be associated with better education and health outcomes.
In Aotearoa New Zealand, Māori, Pacific peoples and disabled people are at the highest risk of experiencing severe housing deprivation and are over-represented in the population of children and young people in care.
This in-depth assessment found that families and whānau of children in care struggle to access the housing support they need to provide a safe, appropriate home to support either the return of the child or young person from care or enable family and whānau to care for a child or young person in care.
Areas for improvement
It identified 4 areas where the government housing response is struggling to meet the needs of children and young people in care:
- The fast-track system, which is intended to prioritise households on the Public Housing Register who are caring for a child or young people in care, is not working as intended.
- The reunification of children and young people with their parents, families and whānau is delayed in some cases, because of a lack of appropriate housing.
- Emergency housing, which is used where there are no other housing options available, is not tailored to meet the needs of children and young people in care, their families, whānau and caregivers and can be unsafe and inappropriate.
- There is a lack of suitable housing for disabled children and young people in care who need more intensive support and care.
Cross-agency plan for addressing unmet housing need
Te Tūāpapa Kura Kāinga – Ministry for Housing and Urban Development, Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities, Oranga Tamariki – Ministry for Children, Ministry for Social Development and Whaikaha – Ministry of Disabled People have developed a plan to address the unmet housing need.
The cross-agency response has identified practical short and long-term actions:
- Developing guidelines for social workers on the fast-track system to ensure kaimahi have a consistent understanding of how the fast-track system currently works.
- Supporting access to appropriate housing to help children and young people to stay in the care of parents, family and whānau. This includes considering what cross-agency support is available, housing needs of children returning to their family and whānau, and how agencies can better support families and whānau to navigate the housing system.
- Ensuring that the specific needs of children and young people in care are considered through the review of the emergency housing system.
- Sourcing appropriate Public Housing and supported housing for disabled children and young people.
- Ensuring that disabled children and young people in care, and their parents and whanau, are considered in the provision of homes, adaptations and equipment.
Published: June 1, 2023