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Page URL: https://practice.orangatamariki.govt.nz/core-practice/practice-tools/intake-decision-response-tool/report-of-concern-response-pathway/
Printed: 14/06/2024
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Last updated: 30/06/2023

Report of concern response pathway

We undertake the core assessment phase for a child and family assessment or investigation.

Upcoming changes for this content

This content will be strengthened so it more completely reflects our commitment to practice framed by te Tiriti o Waitangi, based on a mana-enhancing paradigm for practice, and drawing from ​Te Ao Māori principles of oranga to support mana tamaiti, whakapapa and whanaungatanga. We each need to consider how we can apply these principles to our practice when reading this content. The following resources provide support:
Practice for working effectively with Māori
Our practice approach

Core assessment phase – child and family assessment (CFA)

Statutory assessment may be necessary or desirable if:

  • te tamaiti is experiencing (or is likely to experience) serious harm
  • this is having a significant impact on their development, safety, health and wellbeing
  • the cumulative effect of experiences is harmful to the current and long-term developmental needs of te tamaiti and the issues remain unresolved
  • there has been no criminal offending against te tamaiti.

Emotional, psychological, behavioural distress

  • The behaviour of significant adults is consistently intimidating towards te tamaiti or undermining the mana of te tamaiti and impacting on their self-belief.
  • There are challenging relationships and interaction between te tamaiti and the significant adults in their life.
  • Te tamaiti is unresponsive, challenging, distressed or scared in interactions with others.
  • The emotional or psychological distress of te tamaiti is harmful to themselves or others.
  • Unresolved issues are having a cumulative and adverse impact on te tamaiti.

Adult issues and behaviours impacting on te tamaiti (including unborn babies) or rangatahi

  • Mental health issues, substance abuse or family harm is occurring.
  • The adult is unwilling to access appropriate support to address those concerns and the needs of te tamaiti are not being met.
  • There is ongoing exposure to significant adult conflict – relationships and behaviour.


  • The home environment is chaotic and potentially dangerous and a significant adult is not acting on the concerns, and/or
  • There is a sustained pattern of failure (by a significant adult) to act on concerns, which is likely to place te tamaiti at risk of serious health and developmental issues or harm.
  • The significant adult is unable to provide for the basic needs of te tamaiti.
  • Medical treatment has not been accessed or has been discontinued, and attempts to re-engage the whānau or family in treatment have been unsuccessful.

Physical abuse

  • There is physical abuse that does not meet the criteria of the Child Protection Protocol (CPP) such as hitting, kicking or slapping (apart from to the head), injuries such as welts, unexplained bruising and cuts, with no other circumstances or factors.

Suicidal thoughts / self-harm

  • The behavioural distress of te tamaiti is a serious risk to them, and
  • There are no adults actively providing safety and support for te tamaiti.

Previous tamariki removed from a parent or caregiver

  • A parent who has had a tamaiti removed previously has a new or unborn tamaiti.
  • A new partner brings te tamaiti into a household where other tamariki had previously been removed.
  • An adult is providing (full or part) care of te tamaiti when their own tamaiti has been removed.

Concerning or harmful sexualised behaviours

  • Sexualised behaviours that are not age or developmentally appropriate and other contextual factors that are of concern indicate they have been exposed to behaviour or knowledge beyond their age and stage.

Adults who offend

  • The Probation Service has advised that an adult who has offended and poses a significant risk to tamariki will be or is living in the home with te tamaiti.
  • Safety has not been identified and a plan may be required to build safety for te tamaiti.
  • Monitoring by the Probation Service, on its own, may not provide adequate safety.
  • The care arrangement for te tamaiti is impacted by a parent or usual caregiver's offending, arrest or incarceration, and there are concerns about the impact on or safety of te tamaiti.
  • The circumstances of the offending may be impacting on the ability of the parent or usual caregiver to make safe and appropriate decisions for te tamaiti.


  • Wellbeing concerns are complex or wide ranging, and te tamaiti may be suffering, or be likely to suffer, serious harm as a result, or
  • More information needs to be gathered before determining the response.

Guidance: Reports of concern about sexualised behaviour

Definition: Wellbeing

Guidance: Being aware of suicide risk factors

Definition: Serious harm

Definition: Cumulative harm

Definitions of abuse, neglect and harm

Core assessment phase – investigation

Choose this pathway when the actions or behaviour of an adult may constitute a criminal offence against te tamaiti, as defined in the Child Protection Protocol (CPP), and a joint approach between the Police and Oranga Tamariki is required to investigate concerns and establish safety. 

Refer to the Child Protection Protocol (CPP) for details of the criteria.

Guidance: Child Protection Protocol (CPP)

If te tamaiti witnesses an offence (such as a murder), while concerning and traumatic, this does not meet the CPP and we should consider a child and family assessment instead. This is because witnessing an offence is not an offence against te tamaiti.

An investigation is required to explore allegations of one or more of the following.

Sexual abuse

  • Sexual abuse is an act involving circumstances of indecency with, or sexual violation of, te tamaiti, or using te tamaiti in the making of sexual imaging through force or enticement.


  • Neglect is when a person intentionally ill-treats or neglects te tamaiti or causes or permits te tamaiti to be ill-treated in a manner likely to cause te tamaiti actual bodily harm, injury to health or any mental disorder or disability. This includes basic needs of te tamaiti being withheld. The ill-treatment or neglect must be serious and avoidable.   

Physical abuse

  • Physical abuse is when the actions of an offender result in, or could potentially result in, physical harm or injury being inflicted on te tamaiti. This is also known as non-accidental injury.