Thursday, 25 August 2016
Where are those wrap around services, Hekia?
I have a very sad story playing out for a friend with her son. It's been ongoing, but the last three years have been a train wreck.
The education system has washed it's hands of him as the MOE won't cater for him. He was excluded from his local high school before the end of his first term of Year 9 despite the best efforts of senior staff to support him and get funding.
He's too old for health camp, and no one would put him in a residential school like Halswell, probably due to funding and a lack of placements available since Hekia has cut that funding dramatically. He is too old for that option now.
Youth mental health services are ineffective. CYFs won't help, despite the impact of his actions on his younger siblings. The police and fire service have tried their best, are sympathetic to this lad's mum and would like to do more, but are constrained by law as he is 15.
If the mum tried to get him to go to a drug and alcohol treatment programme, despite the fact he is a minor, he can refuse. Alternative education has provided him with delinquent associates who are teaching him how to break the law and encouraging to consume alcohol and drugs.
This kid has a label: oppositional conduct disorder. CDC say that he'll never fit into a traditional education setting.
His mum is convinced she will be putting him in a box or he'll be in jail by the end of the year after he has committed several crimes and been given a 24 hour curfew. She has resorted to getting a Section 333 on her son - that's a full psychological assessment.
Two years ago I sat in a meeting in the St Peter's Cathedral Hall in Hamilton listening to another desperate mother tell Education Minister Hekia Parata about her battle to keep her intelligent child in the education system despite him not fitting into the mould of the education landscape. He was not attending school as a result and was doing Correspondence School instead. This mother explained the processes of the schools with her son, of how the Ministry of Education said that he did not fit their definitions for assistance.
And Hekia Parata's response to that mother, in front of a room full of principals, BOT members, teachers, politicians, unionists and officials was: the BOT of your son's school has the power to sort this out.
There was a collective groan.
Since then, Ms Parata has trumpeted the role of the wrap around services for students who struggle in the mainstream, particularly as she has knobbled the ability of Salisbury School to enrol the girls who have traditionally needed the help, support and education they provide.
So here's my question: Where is the wrap around services for my friend's child and his family, Hekia Parata?