The Indian Journal of Social Work, Vol. XXIV, No, 1 (April 1963). C H I...
The Indian Journal of Social Work, Vol. XXIV, No, 1 (April 1963).
C H I L D W E L F A R E I N
LEWIS G. A N D E R S O N
N E W Z E A L A N D
In the following lines Mr. Anderson, who visited India three years ago, elogises
the work that is going on in India for the welfare of the masses and shows how
a small country like New Zealand with an area of about 100,000 square miles
provides for children a multipurpose social service which is based on practical
considerations rather than on academic research.
Mr. Anderson is Deputy Superintendent in the Department of Education, Child
Welfare Division, of the Government of New Zealand, Willington, N.Z.
Although New Zealand is a small country, ficially at any rate) that this should be so.
both in size and in population, yet I believe We in New Zealand have excellent and
that what it is attempting in Child Welfare free education services catering for every
will be of interest to social workers in India, child in the country who is in the slight-
a country which is bigger in every way. New est degree educable. We have free health
Zealand covers an area of about 100,000 services, and our Plunket Society, an orga-
square miles, exclusive of the island and nisation devoted to the care of babies and
antarctic dependencies. It is 1,000 miles long young mothers, has been regarded as a
and about 280 miles across at its widest part. model for the rest of the world. In com-
There is a population of two and a half parison with the position in other count-
million people. Of that total, 176,500 are ries the recreational facilities available to
classified as of Maori descent, the Maori all are superlative. O u r Social Security
people being the indigenous citizens of New system is unsurpassed anywhere. Yet com-
Zealand. T h e overwhelming majority of the plementing these and other services design-
people are descendants from ancestors of ed to ensure the full development of all
United Kingdom origin. So far there are only our children, we have to have a Govern-
small numbers of residents who came (or ment Child Welfare service employing 800
whose parents came) from Asian, Eastern, people to deal with the social problems
European, Scandinavian or Mediterranean of those children who need special care
countries or from the American or African and attention or treatment. T h e total of
continents.
800 includes 200 field officers, (officially
known as Child Welfare Officers) 330
T h e country is a fertile one, with a institution officers and 60 teachers. The
pleasant, temperate climate, with a fair rest are administrative and clerical
measure of prosperity, with no extremes of officers.
wealth or poverty, with full employment
offering for everyone, with an average ex-
pectation of life of about 70 years, and
Three years ago I was privileged to
with nearly all the other conditions that spend three weeks in India while I was
should produce happy, healthy, industrious attending a United Nations conference. I
and well-adjusted citizens, but despite this saw something of the vigour and imagina-
it has its fair share of social problems. It tion that is going in to the planning of
certainly has its fair shares of Child social services for that resourceful sub-
Welfare problems. It is surprising (super-
continent, During my short stay I also

2
L E W I S G . A N D E R S O N
came to realise what a big job lay ahead is entitled to. He can criticise it freely and
in conquering the major problems of can openly demand disciplinary measures
poverty and disease and illiteracy. I ima-
if the service is inefficient. At the same
gine, however, that no Indian social worker time the average citizen recognises that
would deceive himself or herself into some (a minority) of the social services can
believing that, once these major problems best be run by voluntary agencies and that
have been conquered, the social problems one of their virtues is their lack of autho-
that remain will be insignificant. O u r ex-
rity, which precludes them from using the
perience, in what could well be called a "big stick" in the course of their work.
Welfare State, and, 1 suggest, the United
States experience, in what I certainly
Child Welfare an educational service: —
would not classify as a Welfare State, show The Child Welfare Division is part of the
t h a t prosperity brings its own major social Department of Education. This seems to
problems.
be a more appropriate link than an asso-
ciation with Health or Justice or Social
O u r Child Welfare problems in New Security would be. Child Welfare is a
Zealand rarely arise from want or from social rather than a medical service; its
lack of opportunity. Most frequently they work is educational and in no sense penal;
arise from incompetence and from failure it mainly carries out case work in a field
to take advantage of opportunities. In setting rather than disburses money, which
theory, there is little excuse to be offered is one of the main functions of the Social
for the fact that, in a favoured land with Security Department. The alternative to a
a small population of two and a half link with another department is for a
million people of all ages, 800 of those separate Department of Social Welfare
people should be engaged in remedial and to be established. This is the pattern in
rehabilitative social work with children; those developing countries where Govern-
in practice, we could profitably employ ment social services are being established or
several times that number in order to increased. Conceivably it could be the
cope with all the work needing to be patttern which will evolve here.
. done.
Child Welfare a Government service: —
General function of service:— T h e
Child Welfare work in New Zealand is all embracing function of the Child
undertaken in the main by the Government Welfare Division constitutes an aim which
and not by voluntary agencies. Voluntary can never completely be achieved. It is
social agencies are few in number and to ensure, as far as humanly possible, that
none of them is well-endowed financially all children have the chance to become
as is the case, say, in the United States. happy members of society, congenially and
My impression (and it is only one person's usefully employed, and enjoying the satis-
impression) of the attitude of the average factions which full use of their talents
New Zealand citizen is t h a t in general he can bring. In our adult society there are,
prefers social work to be undertaken by of course, offenders against the law who
Government departments because it ab-
as criminals and prisoners are obviously
solves him from any suggestion that he is failures and are obviously a drag on the
accepting charity. He pays his taxes and community. Those who are misfits, who
he receives the service he has paid for and are "square pegs in round holes", who are

C H I L D W E L F A R E I N N E W ZEALAND
3
so poorly adjusted to life that they gra-
the absence of available or responsible
vitate towards mental ill-health or just parents because he has some mental or
"get by" without in any way living full physical defect which has not been iden-
and abundant lives, who are resentful tified and given special treatment, because
because of the handicaps they suffered or he is neglected or is subjected to detrimen-
who demonstrate the absence of proper tal influences, because he has committed
guidance as well as the inability to receive offences from an early age for a variety of
or give true affection. For most of these reasons or because he is otherwise emo-
people, delinquent or otherwise, it is pos-
tionally disturbed.
sible to say in retrospect that, if only
someone had recognised what was wrong
Anyone can pay lip service, glibly or
at an early enough stage for remedial work sincerely, to the humanitarian value of
to be effective, they would have been social work with these children. Not
happier and better people today. O u r job enough people, however, recognise the
in Child Welfare is to try to anticipate economic value of the work. A country
these needs rather than to wait for them cannot afford to have large number of its
to become obvious in retrospect.
adult population locked up in public insti-
tutions or, in other ways, a drag on the
My impression, based on limited over-
taxpayers. Comprehensive and efficient
seas and on wide reading, is t h a t our Child social services for children pay financial
Welfare service in New Zealand is more dividends to society. Although the staffing
comprehensive than most, in its endeavour of our New Zealand Child Welfare service
to carry out the job I have outlined. In and related social services may seem ex-
some countries, work with delinquents, cessive and even luxurious to a citizen of
work with children in need of care and India, yet believe, rightly or wrongly, on
protection, work with adoptions, financial the basis of my own observations, that it
assistance to families in need, and possibly must cost less in New Zealand to produce
other related work, are carried out by economic adults (or near adults—young
separate agencies. In some cases there is people of working age) than it does in
good co-ordination between the different India, when one considers the proportion
agencies; in other cases, there isn't. I am of children in India who fail to reach the
not familiar with any other national age of, say, sixteen years or who reach that
service which combines all this work in age incapable of playing their full part in
the one department as we do in New the building of society. My belief, I should
Zealand. We believe (as I don't doubt ex-
add, is not based on factual or statistical
perienced social workers everywhere
d a t a ; it is just one man's general
believe) that the child who becomes a impression.
delinquent can in many cases be little dif-
ferent from the child who manifests his
Child Welfare's function as a classifying
disturbance, not in offences against the law agency:—New Zealand Child Welfare
but in some other form of mal-adjustment, Officers are expected to have an encyclo-
not quite so conspicuous but nevertheless paedic knowledge of all the services,
just as damaging in its effect on the indi-
Government and voluntary, catering for
vidual person and on society.
children. This means that anyone can
T h e child may become an inadequate approach them with a problem relating to
adult because he has suffered initially from a child and is entitled to get an answer,

4
L E W I S G . A N D E R S O N
even if it amounts only to classifying the
to care for him or her. T h e mother,
problem and referring the enquirer to
perhaps because she has left home to
some other authority. For instance, a
have her baby somewhere where she
Child Welfare Officer may reply to an
is not known, is not in a fit condition,
enquirer, "this is a health problem and
physically and emotionally, to make
you should see a general medical practi-
wise decisions about her baby's
tioner or a public health nurse or a school
future and has no relatives or friends
medical officer or a Plunket Society nurse"
on the spot to advise her. There is
or "this is a matter about which you
a statutory provision that every
should consult one of the psychologists
illegitimate birth must be notified in
attached to the Department of Education
confidence by a Registrar of Births to
or one of the psychiatrists attached to the
a Child Welfare Officer who then
Department of Health", or "because you
visits the mother, preferably while
want help in securing maintenance orders
she is still in a hospital or nursing
against your deserting husband for yourself
home (where practically all New
and your children, you should go to the
Zealand mothers have their babies)
N. Z. Society for the Protection of Home
and offers help. T h e mother may
and Family." Whether or not it is a
want her baby adopted, she may want
problem outside the domestic province of
it boarded in a suitable private home,
the Child Welfare Division, a Child Wel-
she may want it to become a ward
fare Officer should be able to give some
of the State, she may want financial
helpful advice. In other words, the Child
help to enable her to keep the baby
Welfare Division acts as a clearing house
with her or she may want help in
for children's problems of all kinds.
having the putative father adjudged
and ordered to pay maintenance. On
The kinds of children dealt with directly
the other hand, if the unmarried
by Child Welfare.—The problems that are
mother is a de facto wife, she may
not referred to some other agency but
not want help and, in that case, if
remain with Child Welfare for action can
the officer is satisfied that the mother
be divided roughly into four main categories.
is capable of caring adequately for the
T h e y concern.—
child, the officer will tactfully a n d
speedily withdraw. It is not the
I. Children with no parents or no
function of the officer to interfere
available parents. This category can be
where she is not wanted. T h e work
subdivided into:
with unmarried mothers and their
(a) Orphans. There are not many true
babies is undertaken by women
orphans in the country. For the few
officers.
who have no relatives and friends
willing to look after them, t h e State
(c) Small children living apart from
through the Child Welfare Division
parents. For over 70 years it has
acts in loco parentis and ensures that
been the law in New Zealand that no
they have as near as possible a
child under the age of six years can
normal upbringing, almost invariably
be maintained apart from its parents
in a foster-home.
for more than seven days unless it
(b) Illegitimate babies. Usually an ille-
is with a licensed foster-parent. This
gitimate baby has no father available
was originally legislated for in the

CHILD WELFARE IN N E W ZEALAND
5
Infant Life Protection Act and,
orphans. T h e childen in the Homes
although that Act has long ago been
are mostly products of broken or
embodied in another, the term Infant
breaking homes. T h e Child Welfare
Life Protection (or I.L.P. for short)
Division is required to make recom-
still persists in colloquial use. T h e
mendations to the Minister about
purpose of the provision is to prevent,
the registration, continued operation,
as far as possible, child exploitation
and if necessary, cancelling of the
or baby farming. T h e provision
registration of these Homes. In
applies whether or not the natural
brief their job is to see t h a t proper
parents are paying the foster-parents
standards are maintained in the
for the child's upkeep by the latter.
interests of the children. T h e Divi-
A Child Welfare Officer, in effect,
sion disburses capitation grants and
acts as an intermediary to protect the
capital subsidies to the controlling
interests of the child. She helps the
authorities of the Homes. (It could
natural parents to find a suitable
also be mentioned t h a t the Division
home, she licenses the foster-parents
since 1961 has been required by
and she then visits the home
statute to undertake the licensing
frequently to supervise the care of the
and oversight of child care centres
child.
i . e . , day nurseries, shoppers' cre-
ches and similar centres. T h e
(d) M i g r a n t and refugee children. If a
children in these centres have
migrant or refugee child arrives in
parents available to care for them
New Zealand while still under the
and I am referring here to this
age of eighteen years, unaccompani-
particular Child Welfare function
ed by his or her parents, the
for w a n t of a more appropriate
Superintendent ( i . e . the controll-
category.)
ing officer) of the Child Welfare
Division becomes by law the child's
(f) Adopted children. A child, whether
legal guardian. T h e officers of the
legitimate or illegitimate, released
Division provide guidance and as-
for adoption by its natural parents
sistance for the child until he or
and not yet formally adopted by
she is capable of being self-sup-
others can be said to have no
porting.
available parents. Placements for
adoption must be approved in
(e) Children in private institutions.
advance by Child Welfare Officers,
There are some 69 registered Child-
although applicants have the right
ren's Homes in the country provid-
to go direct to the Court in the
ing accommodation for about 1500
first instance. This right is rarely
children. These Homes are maintained
availed of. T h e making of adoption
by voluntary agencies, usually the
orders, following a trial period, is
churches. Many of them are errone-
the sole prerogative of the Courts.
ously called "orphanages' even though
T h e Courts are bound to call for
the statistics for some years now have
reports from Child Welfare Officers
shown that only about (and often
before hearing applications for
less than) three per cent of the
orders. Of all the statutes under
children in the Homes have been
which we work, the Adoption Act

6
L E W I S G. A N D E R S O N
1955 is the most advanced. It in-
I V . Delinquent children. T h e delinquent
corporates the best features of adop-
children with whom we work are those who
tion practices in other countries have committed offences against the law
and is operating successfully to and are detected. These are, of course,
avoid the pitfalls which existed in m a n y delinquent children who are not
earlier legislation covering his
detected in their wrongdoing. T h e cases
vitally important work. Incidentally of those children detected in wrongdoing
New Zealand was the first country are considered by joint committees com-
in the British Commonwealth, and prising Child Welfare Officers and
one of the first in the world, to specially appointed members of the Juve-
have statutory provision for the nile Crime Prevention Section (J.C.P.S. for
legal adoption of children.
short) of the Police. These committees make
recommendations whether a child will be
(g) Children of divorced parents.
prosecuted or whether the case will be
Officers report to the Court in cases dealt by preventive measures. In the last
where there is a dispute about the statistical year 4300 children appeared
custody of children of divorced or before the Children's Courts charged with
separated parents.
offences. This was at the rate of 84 per
I I . Children with mental and physical 10,000 of the child population (aged 10
defects. T h e Child Welfare Division has to 17 years). In the same year 3900
administrative responsibility for the State children were dealt with preventively
residential special schools for deaf children following consideration by the J . C . P . S .
and for backward children. Child Welfare committees. These figures will give a
Officers have a limited responsibility in rough idea of the current incidence of
urban areas but a wider responsibility in juvenile delinquency in New Zealand.
rural areas for ensuring t h a t crippled and
The age range of children dealt with:—
blind children receive specialised treat-
T h e Children's Courts handle two main
ment and an education commensurate types of cases. They hear charges for
with their ability. Child Welfare shares offences prosecuted by the police and they
responsibility with its parent Department also hear complaints under the Child Wel-
(Education) for running a special school fare Act, usually prosecuted by Child
for disturbed and emotionally maladjusted Welfare Officers but also occasionally
children. This school is so far the only prosecuted by the Police. Complaints are
one of its kind established in New Zealand. directed against the parents and they cover
I I I . Children who suffer because of the the kinds of cases briefly outlined in
defects of their environment. Not m a n y Category I I I above. T h e Courts can hear
children in this country are deliberately complaints relating to children aged from
illtreated but many are neglected by their babyhood up to the 17th birthday. T h e
parents, are subjected to detrimental minimum age of criminal responsibility is
influences such as gross immorality or ten years. When a young person over 17
drunkenness, are unduly indulged by years of age but not yet 18, is charged in
stupid parents or are allowed to become the Magistrate's Court, with the commis-
out of control. T h e children in this cate-
sion of an offence, the Court may choose
gory provide Child Welfare with the bulk to refer him or her to the Children's
of its work.
Court. If the Children's Court decides, on

C H I L D W E L F A R E I N N E W ZEALAND
7
a charge or complaint, to place a child in bility for general policy and oversight of
the care of the State, i . e . to deprive the administration.
parents of their rights of guardianship, it
orders that the child be in the care and
Institutions:—The Child Welfare institu-
guardianship of the Superintendent of tions consist mainly of (a) Training Cen-
Child Welfare. T h e child can so remain tres of an open-house type, with a mini-
until he or she is 21 years of age. T h e m u m of secure provisions, providing long-
effect of all these provisions about ages is term social training for seriously delinquent
that the Child Welfare Division works or disturbed children who must be removed
with children from babyhood up to mainly temporarily from circulation in society (b)
17 to 18 years, but in some cases (a small Boys' Homes and Receiving Homes which
minority up to 21 years).
provide short-term shelter and training for
Children admitted either in emergencies or
Children's Courts:-—The Children's
pending classification for placemen elsewhere
Court is presided over by a Stipendiary and (c) the special schools mentioned earlier.
Magistrate or a specially appointed Justice
of the Peace. It sits in private. Admission
Foster-Homes:—Only about ten per cent
to the Court is restricted. Publication of of State wards are maintained in institu-
reports of proceedings is restricted also, in tions. T h e Superintendent is enjoined by a
the interests of the children. Nothing can statutory provision to admit children to
be published which could lead to the iden-
institutions only in exceptional cases. T h e
tification of a child appearing in the Court. great majority of State wards live in
T h e Court invariably is furnished with foster-homes and attend the ordinary
comprehensive reports prepared by Child schools or, if their talents justify it, the
Welfare Officers. There are rights of Universities, or are engaged in normal
appeal against decisions of the Children's congenial employment chosen for them
Court.
with the aid of specialist Vocational
Guidance Officers. Foster-parents are paid
T h e Superintendent of Child Welfare, at rates, fixed by Cabinet from time to
as the legal guardian of all State wards, time, which are designed to strike a
has a discretion to decide whether or not balance between ensuring that, on the one
one of his wards shall be admitted to an hand, the foster-parents are not out of
institution or boarded out in a foster-home. pocket and, on the other hand, that foster-
T h e effect of this is that the Courts do not parents are not encouraged to take child-
have the power to send children straight ren into their homes in order to make a
from the Courts to Child Welfare institu-
profit out of them. My colleagues in social
tions. They can, however, send older work in India are no doubt aware of the
children and young persons direct to penal trend in some countries deliberately to
institutions such as detention centres, arrange that there shall be a margin of
Borstal institutions or prisons, all of which profit for foster-parents. T h e supply of
are the responsibility, not of Child Welfare, foster-parents is always (perhaps inevi-
but of the Department of Justice. T h e tably) below the demand and I do not
Superintendent of Child Welfare is not know whether the more selective use of
subject to direction from the Minister in them which a profit would allow would
matters concerning individual State wards. operate to increase the supply. A develop-
T h e Minister, of course exercises responsi-
ment of recent years, designed to meet the

8
L E W I S G . A N D E R S O N
shortage of private foster-homes, has been greater number (over 8000) of children
the building by the Government of who are on supervision or with whom we
"family homes." These are large houses are doing preventive work. Supervision is
owned and furnished by the Government similar to adult probation. T h e term is
and occupied rent-free by specially selected fixed by the Court. T h e child remains in
foster-parents who receive board payments his own home and his parents' rights of
for looking after a number of State wards. guardianship are not disturbed. Child
T h e foster-father engages in his . normal
Welfare Officers attempt by frequent
employment during working hours and visits to influence the child into better
then helps the foster-mother with the over-
standards of conduct. They make available
sight of the children in the evenings and specialist medical, psychiatric and other
at the week-ends.
services if necessary.
Increasing public recognition of the fact
Preventive Supervision:—The greatest
t h a t the majority of State wards have volume of Child Welfare work is done
acquired that status through no fault of on a preventive basis and this is as it
their own has served to diminish the stigma should be. Removal of a child from home
that used to be attached to them. There should be undertaken only as a last resort
are former State wards in all walks of life, and I believe it should be difficult to
including Members of Parliament.
achieve. T h e Court requires to be satisfied
Maintenance Payments:—Parents of
by admissible evidence that drastic action
State wards are under an obligation to is warranted and I would not favour mak-
contribute to the maintenance of their ing it easier for Child Welfare Officers to
children to the best of their ability. It secure committal orders. I personally would
would not be fair to expect the general support the continued preservation of the
body of taxpayers to shoulder the burden judicial factor, if parents are to be deprived
which is properly the responsibility of the of their rights of guardianship. A social
parents. T h e circumstance that the parents worker could easily earn a reputation as a
may have been inadequate or neglectful bureaucrat or a dictator if he h a d the
makes it even more just that they should right to decide on the suitability of parents
pay if they can. Many parents of State to retain control of their own children.
wards pay nothing. Social workers accus-
Such a matter should be decided judicially
tomed to the living conditions of the by an independent disinterested and im-
poorer people in India would be amazed partial body. But rather than initiate
to hear the arguments put forward in New drastic action, it is better to persist with
Zealand in favour of being excused from preventive work and so avoid burdening
payment of maintenance by some parents a child with a life-long sense of grievance
who have steady well-paid employment, because he has been separated from parents
own their own homes and cars and have all who may be considered inadequate but
the latest labour-saving devices such as who nevertheless are his parents.
refrigerators and washing machines as well
as luxuries like radiograms and television
Although I do not propose to detail the
sets.
various ways in which preventive work is
carried out, I would mention one particular
Legal Supervision:—There are some
aspect of it and t h a t is Needy Family
3400 State wards at present. There are assistance. T h e Social Security Department

C H I L D W E L F A R E I N N E W ZEALAND
9
disburses cash benefits to those persons courses and training on the job followed.
automatically entitled to them a n d it also For just over ten years now we have h a d
exercises a discretion to give special assist-
a School of Social Science attached to one
ance where need is established on the of our Universities and the graduates from
merits of an individual case. However, that school are percolating through the
should the case concern a family ( i . e . service in increasing numbers. T h e School
where these is at least one child) and is a small one and has limited facilities. In
should a measure of social work oversight fact I am sure the staff would envy the
be called for, the expenditure is disbursed facilities available particularly at the T a t a
by Child Welfare. This is a useful adjunct Institute of Social Sciences and even at
to our work. An improvement in the the more humble premises of the Delhi
material circumstances of a home and School of Social Work, both of which
family can often lead to the diversion of institutions I was privileged to visit when
anti-social trends into something more I was in India. Salaries for Child Welfare
constructive. Furthermore, the fact that a Officers are good by comparison with other
Child Welfare Officer is disbursing a comparable groups of public servants. T h e
rental subsidy or is arranging grants for payment of near-professional rates of salary
furniture, for clothing or for settlement has been a comparatively recent develop-
of debts can make the officer more accept-
ment however, and has not for long operat-
able to his clients who are readier to act ed to attract top-level recruits.
upon the officer's advice. I should repeat
here, though, what I have already said
Conclusion:—The service provided so
about maintenance. A needy family in far has been essentially a practical one and
India would be a family which had noth-
the tendency has been to recruit officers
ing, literally nothing, in the way of material whose strength lies in versatility and cordiality
possessions. Some of our needy families in rather than in an intellectual approach to
New Zealand own their house and have a problems. Because of that, because we can
car and a television set, and yet can insist on a uniform policy being followed
establish special need. I realise that this (with some latitude for individual initiative)
would hardly make sense to an Indian and because our service provides a coverage
social worker.
for the whole country so that the resident
in the most isolated rural area is entitled to
Officers:—There are more women
the same standard of service as the citizen
Child Welfare Officers than men. T h e in the capital city. I believe we have as good
division of functions is based on the belief a national service as any. I am fully aware
that women are more suitable for dealing that some of the local agencies in the United
with young children of both sexes and States produce far superior work to any of
older girls whereas men are more capable ours but on the other hand there are
of handing cases concerning older boys. extremes of quality of service in that country.
This belief is debatable but it explains why O u r service is geared to deal with what
there are more women in the service. Until are coming to be regarded as the ordinary
recent years there was no specialised casualties of a relatively prosperous com-
training for recruits to the service. Officers munity. W h a t we lack is enough of the
were chosen on the grounds of academic specialised services for dealing with the
attainment, experience in social work and exceptional problem children. No doubt in
personal suitability. In-service training time we shall have highly trained officers

10
L E W I S G. A N D E R S O N
specialising in narrow fields and we shall tions than on modern academic research.
have a greater range of institutions enabling With those limitations accepted, I believe
us to engage in better classification of in all humility that we do a job which is
problem children and more skilled treat-
well worth study on the spot by social
ment of unusually difficult children. At workers from countries which, like ours,
present, though, as I hope I have shown
throughout this article, we provide for are still in the developing stage, as distinct
children a multi-purpose social service from what are known as the highly deve-
which is based more on practical considera-
loped countries.