Launched earlier this year, VOYCE Whakarongomai is an independent NGO which connects children and young people in care and supports them to advocate for their needs. It will ensure that their experiences and voices influence Oranga Tamariki and the wider care system.
VOYCE was initiated as the result of a unique collaboration. In 2014 the Todd and Tindall Foundations started talking about how we could better support kids in care. Foundation North and Vodafone Foundation joined the conversation, and early in 2015 we pulled together stakeholders, thought leaders, representatives from support/advocacy organisations, and care-experienced young people. Together we explored issues in foster care and some potential solutions that would be a good fit (in scale and intent) for philanthropic funding.
Supporting children and young people in care to connect and have a voice was something we were keen to explore. Earlier work by the Dingwall Trust had established that care-experienced young people were strongly in favour of this. When the government then announced a plan to fully review Child Youth and Family, this created a unique opportunity to progress this idea.
We engaged with the review panel and suggested that the formation of a connection and advocacy organisation should be a key recommendation. This was the beginning of a two-year process; partnering with children and young people, organisations from across philanthropy and the care sector, and government, to design and set up VOYCE Whakarongo Mai.
The Todd Foundation has greatly valued being part of this collaboration and we’re looking forward to building on the relationships we’ve developed. What we’ve learned underpins the ‘collaboration’ strand of our new funding approach. Our intention is to increase our collaborations with other funders in the future.