Saturday, March 17, 2007

ZenTiger Dr Kiro's Master Plan

Dr Kiro has a master plan for every child. The Children's Commissioner has created a document expressing the plan:

The government norm is to have a Maori name for everything. Such tokenism makes us all feel good that we are supporting our cuzzies achieve cultural independence by establishing cultural interdependence. Thus, we have to put up with long Maori names for such reports. I'm not sure it really matters. What does matter is that Dr Kiro's name should feature in the report's Title so history knows who to judge. So I'm taking the liberty of renaming Te Ara Tukutuku Nga Whanaungatanga o Nga Tamariki to Kiro's Master Plan

In a nutshell, the plan is a weak justification around profiling every child in New Zealand, and having a reason to intervene. It would be easy to dismiss my points as paranoid, but this is unfair - given the potential for abuse of this system, and the economic cost monitoring every child, Dr Kiro's report must say far more than "trust us" when considering the finer detail of her master plan. Until I hear more, I judge her guilty by omission, because the impact is so far reaching.

Reading the text speaks like an academically generated collection of buzz words and power phrases, combined with the text of some 18th century manual on "how to look after your human capital and other slaves". Dr Kiro asks for a paradigm shift when she reminds us that the care of children is the fundamental responsibility of our government and our communities. You'd think the word family would figure more prominently in that sentence. When the word family does appear, it seems to be mentioned as an obstacle to get past or as some kind of stationery cupboard that holds documents.

I've repeated about half of the document below - they give a good flavour of the style of the prose. Some may lap it up. It leaves me cold.

Kiro's Master Plan provides a systematic approach to monitoring development of every child and young person in New Zealand.

Lets try the reader's digest version of that sentence: systematic monitoring of everyone

Oh, nice. This would have to be the very reason governments are established. Just the sort of thing the Benjamin Franklins of the world would want enshrined in a constitution. [/sarcasm off]

Kiro's Master Plan is that every child in New Zealand is safe, nurtured, educated, healthy, and has hope for the future.

In practical terms the framework aims to ensure that families are supported within their communities to help children thrive in each of the four domains of physical, emotional, cognitive and social development.

So, just to be clear, the goal is to be involved in all facets of the children's life. Except they forgot some of the other domains, such as moral and spiritual. Does this mean they are going to butt out of these areas, or just that they don't recognise them? Maybe morals and a spiritual dimension aren't important to them?

Assessments at key transition or change points will lead to development of individual plans to guide progress through universal services, and to access any additional services that are required.

There is a direction the government wants you to take. You'll be guided with universal services. How much do you think it's going to cost for an individual plan? And what if the parents don't want one, thank you very much? Obviously, that makes them bad parents, and they will report to the centre for conditioning.

The funny thing is, the key transition and change points will probably be thrust on to a six month waiting list, along with other key transitional or change points, like a heart attack, or being diagnosed with an urgent medical condition.

Ensuring that children are safe and nurtured, have the resources to develop to their full potential, and have their views considered in matters that affect them, is a fundamental responsibility of governments and communities.

Alarm bells. When are the parents views considered? Wait, we get to vote every three years. I'm sure the debate here was whether to include the word "families" in the list of "organisations" that ensure children are safe and nurtured, but then again, that implies the fundamental responsibilities of the government might be trumped in some way. This paragraph highlights that there is little trust in families to do this, and that is why the government needs a universal approach.

An aging population structure, with increasing economic dependency and caregiver ratios, means that the future productivity of every child and young person is important.

Yay. Let's throw in the economic necessity of making sure children are productive units in society.

Investments in childhood are most likely to bring good returns to society as a whole. Economic modeling shows that the optimum return to investment in human capital occurs in the first years of life.

Well, when you put it like that, now I know you have the best interests of children in mind. They'll all be classified by a reference number, awarded marks on the optimum return ratios achieved and bonuses paid to the government plan developer for hitting their KPI's. Isn't this direct from a slave owners manual?

Estimates of the benefit to cost ratio of early childhood intervention for disadvantaged children in the United States are as high 17:1 as by age 40 (i.e. US$17 net benefit to society for every dollar spent.)

Intervention ... that word must be music to Kiro's ears. A universal plan justified on the basis of benefit to cost ratio on disadvantaged children. Makes sense to me.

Kiro's Master Plan will provide accurate information, which is essential to plan well for individual children and families. The framework will also mean that educators, health service providers, community planners and child protection services have access to anonymous aggregated data so that they can prepare and plan appropriately for current and future needs.

Just telegraphing that we may need to legislate around those pesky privacy laws to gather all the necessary information. And we promise to offer anonymous aggregated data to tax payer funded businesses that raise their revenue by increasing the number of interventions. And lies, lies and damn statistics will show just how necessary early intervention is to get that US$17 ROI.

Values for success
Kiro's Master Plan will apply to every child, and will mean that physical, emotional, cognitive and social wellbeing is assessed in a consistent way.

Maybe psych profiles on parents would be a good start?

The framework will be child-centred, family focused and strengths-based. Details of the framework will need to be developed and implemented with the support and in partnership with children and their families.

So what happens when mum and dad say "f*ck off assessment worker"? Well, it is child centred, so sounds like "opt out" clauses are not permitted. Forced vaccinations. Forbidden from certain religious practices? Removed from parents because of a suspected smack? (Well the parents were Christian fundamentalists, we may as well intervene early). Own up Kiro. What happens if parents don't see your master plan in the same positive light?

The framework allows for early identification of additional needs, which may be met within universal services, and early intervention in the life of a problem where necessary.

What deems that early intervention is necessary? Like the CYF social workers who stand accused of removing a child from his mother because they disliked her Christian beliefs?

Where multiple needs are identified the support provided to the child and their family will be integrated through a lead professional, who has responsibility to collate information and co-ordinate service delivery. A common record will include entries from all practitioners involved, and will continue to be owned by the child and held by the family.

I love the terms service delivery; owned by the child; and held by the family. Smooth. Owned by the whole family? What if the parents are divorced? Which parts of the family share the file notes anyway?

Where statutory interventions or specialist intervention are required the integrated service delivery will continue, co-ordinated by a practitioner with statutory or professional responsibility to take the lead professional role.

And lets be clear, with a universal plan comes statutory intervention.

A key strength of an integrated approach is the potential for all professionals to be working to the same frame of reference. This is, of course, in stark contrast to the silo effect often observed between, and even within, agencies who may be engaged with families but do not co-ordinate their work.

And if the files notes of the assigned case worker are biased, or have made false accusations or assumptions based on the psych assessment with the child etc, then the case worker gets to promote their version of the truth to the other people involved in the case, perhaps prejudicing the situation. A very common compliant with CYF disputes.

For the framework to function effectively, those involved with a child or family will need to have access to information that helps them to make better decisions. A sound information base is essential if we are going to make sure that every child is safe and protected, enjoys the resources to take an active role in society, and understands and enjoys their human rights.

The clear benefits of sharing integrated information are that each and every social service provider has a clear picture of the child’s experiences, strengths and needs, and can more effectively promote that child’s rights, best interests and welfare.

Just about every situation I can think of where non-family members need full access to information, is where they are deciding on the level of intervention. Deciding what is in the child's best interests and welfare need to be defined very very well, before deciding how much intervention in the life of every child Dr Kiro is going to advocate.

And when the information describing a child is reduced to a series of database records to pass on an informed picture of a child's life, you know we are in trouble.

The Children's Commissioner gets over 2 million dollars a year in government funding. She's using it to work out how to build a complete service industry around interfering with every single family in New Zealand. Her mission is to help children. A noble mission. To ensure success, she is spending her time devising ways to gain complete and unfettered access to all children via a legion of dedicated "service providers". Some of those service providers will likely decide the family is a major obstacle to achieving their KPI's. What powers will they ask for? Remember, think of the children.

Dr Kiro is simply campaigning for the authority first, and the "trust us" part comes later.

Show me the contract Dr Kiro. I'm interested in the fine print.

Related Article: Dr Kiro's Master Plan

2 comment(s):

Bluetongue said...

In NZ you are already more likely to be investigated for child abuse than you are to receive a low level speeding ticket.

According to 2006 statistics the police issued 34,000 tickets for motorists exceeding the speed limit by between six and 10 kilometres an hour.

In 2006, CYF processed 45,036 care and protection notifications.

Sources: NZ Police, MSD (as below).

Unknown said...

If they want to iclude me that can give it a name in Gaelic.

Till then it only applies to Maori as far as I'm concerned.

See what happens when you flood a country with cheap imports from Taiwan.

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