The overhaul of a struggling Child, Youth and Family will take years not months and more people will need to "step up" and become foster parents, says Social Development Minister Anne Tolley.
The performance of the state's child protection has been highly criticised by an expert panel, with "horrifying" statistics damning its performance.
"A great deal of the work and increase in emotional abuse has almost been caused by the system itself," Ms Tolley told TVNZ's Q+A program today.
There have been 14 restructures of CYF since 1988 but now the government is promising a ground-up overhaul - which will be guided by the panel's report due in December.
Any restructure would be taken through cabinet next year and law changes would need to be put through parliament.
"It will be years, unfortunately," Ms Tolley said.
Some parts will be prioritised to help the children in need now.
Ms Tolley said she did not want "facilities" to take the place of proper families.
"What we want are more New Zealanders stepping forward to say `we are happy to work with these children, take them into our homes'.
"We do need more New Zealanders to step up and open their homes. New Zealanders are very generous people, we saw that outpouring over the Syrian refugees, but we have got children here that need some loving homes."
The first placement should be the best placement, and children should keep their links with their own families, without necessarily living with them, she said.
Ms Tolley said it was frustrating for CYF's social workers that the system didn't allow them to put children first, with more than 50 per cent of their time taken up by administrative functions.
It was also ridiculous there was no national strategy for attracting and retaining caregivers and foster parents.
She repeated that she has ruled out contracting CYF's core work out to private contractors.
"I don't think we want to go anywhere near that... for anyone to step in and take a child out of their biological family it can only be the state that does that."