In response to COVID-19, we are modifying some of our usual practice approaches to keep our staff, tamariki and communities safe.

Maintaining COVID-19 safe and aware practice

We have updated our guidance for Alert Level 2. Keep checking back for updates and new guidance, including our contact tracing requirements (PDF 133KB), guidance for holding tamariki and rangatahi related in-person meetings (PDF 203KB) and the planning tool for holding FGCs and hui person to person safely (PDF 168KB).

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Printed: 04/06/2020
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Last updated: 27/05/2020

Maintaining COVID-19 safe and aware practice

We mostly return to normal practice during Alert Level 2 but need to remain COVID-19 aware and aim to engage safely and reduce the opportunity for transmission.

Our overarching approach during Alert Level 2

We are all really conscious of the potential transmission of COVID-19 and must maintain this vigilance as part of our everyday practice during Alert Level 2 and for the foreseeable future.

Our practice needs to remain COVID-19 aware, have a strong emphasis on reducing the opportunity for transmission of COVID-19 and ensuring we undertake person-to-person engagement safely. This means that we embed the health and hygiene must-do's in our everyday practice. It also means being aware of how the effects of COVID-19 have and continue to impact on individual tamariki, whānau and caregivers.

This guidance will support practitioners to understand:

  • what ongoing impacts COVID-19 will be having on the people we're working with
  • when we should use person-to-person engagement in our practice
  • how we can continue to use remote engagement appropriately and effectively
  • how we can undertake person-to-person engagement safely
  • what we should do if we suspect COVID-19
  • what this means for the area of practice we're working in
  • who needs to approve key decisions
  • what tools and forms we need to use.

Transition to Alert Level 2

At 11.59pm on Tuesday 13 May 2020, New Zealand moved to Alert Level 2.

We mostly return to normal practice during Alert Level 2 but need to remain COVID-19 aware and aim to engage safely and reduce the opportunity for transmission.

We've updated our guidance. We also have a resource that gives an overview of our practice approach for Alert Level 2.
Practice in a pandemic environment at Alert Level 2 (staff resource) (PPTX 1.5MB)

Primary responsibilities and resources to help guide our practice

Under Alert Level 2, we continue to balance our 3 primary responsibilities of:

  • preventing the transmission of COVID-19
  • keeping tamariki, their whānau and caregivers safe
  • ensuring the safety of our staff.

Person-to-person contact in our practice

When determining how best to engage with tamariki, whānau, caregivers and victims during this time, we are guided by what is best to achieve the outcome sought, prioritising tamariki safety. This means we take the time to:

  • consider whether person-to-person engagement is what is needed
  • recognise the value in other forms of engagement
  • find a balanced approach that responds to the unique circumstances, strengths, needs and where possible preferences of individual tamariki, their whānau and those caring for them.

If we suspect COVID-19

Even when there are low infection rates of COVID-19 in our communities, we need to be prepared to act quickly if we identify situations in our practice where COVID-19 is suspected or confirmed.

Effects of Alert Level 2 on specific areas of practice

Most of our practice under Alert Level 2 will return to our usual best practice, governed by our existing operational policy and practice guidance. However:

  • in a small number of cases, the requirements of Alert Level 2 need more detailed guidance
  • in other cases, there may be some additional considerations to take into account alongside existing guidance.

Approvals for key decisions

In most cases, the usual delegations for any casework decision will apply.

In a small number of cases, where there are extra health and safety requirements, specific approval might be needed by your supervisor or manager.

Decision Who can approve How the decision is made
Plan for a social worker to engage safely person to person Supervisor (NCC supervisor after hours)

As part of usual social worker / supervisor consultation around safety considerations for a visit, using practice guidance and person-to-person engagement checklist.

Person-to-person engagement checklist (PDF 165 KB)

Arrangements for FGC or other group meeting involving whānau to be held in person Manager — site or youth justice Manager needs to confirm that arrangements in place for conference or meeting comply with health and safety requirements for all involved and present in person.
Staff member can safely attend Family Court Legal Services (usually solicitor; escalate if required) Confirms that attendance is consistent with Family Court protocols and that court has undertaken appropriate steps to ensure onsite safety.
Staff member can safely attend Youth Court Youth Court supervisor (NCC supervisor after hours) Confirms that attendance is consistent with Youth Court protocols and that court has undertaken appropriate steps to ensure onsite safety.
Person-to-person whānau contact arrangements can be undertaken safely Generally supervisor; site manager in certain circumstances If there are no COVID-19 risk factors, a supervisor can approve. If there are COVID-19 risk factors, a site manager must approve that the whānau contact is essential to tamariki wellbeing (eg if te tamaiti is very unwell). Site manager must approve that te tamaiti can attend a gathering and that safe arrangements are in place.
Tamariki in custody not attending school Site manager Unless for a reason specified by the Ministry of Education or for the purpose of a brief transition, site manager must approve the decision for tamariki not to attend school.
Inter-regional travel for tamariki in care Site or residence manager (delegated to national contact centre after hours) Inter-regional travel can occur if necessary for tamariki in care, but must be approved in line with the travel policy (staff resource).
Engaging with tamariki or whānau members who have suspected or confirmed COVID-19 Responsible site, Youth Justice, Residence Manager Site manager approval is required before the engagement (or as soon as it is identified that COVID-19 is suspected or confirmed) and must include confirmation that the engagement is required to address a critical or very urgent need for tamariki and that appropriate health, safety and reporting requirements have been completed.


Tools and resources

Tool or resource When to use it
Contact tracing requirements (PDF 131 KB) For every person-to-person engagement we undertake.
Screening tool (staff resource) (DOCX 70KB) Before every person-to-person engagement, by phone if possible or in person.
Person-to-person engagement (visits) checklist (PDF 165 KB) Each time we plan to undertake a person-to-person engagement (home visit, visit in other setting, office visit) to support our planning.
FGC / whānau hui / family meeting checklist (PDF 168 KB) Each time we plan to undertake a tamariki or rangatahi related hui to support our planning.
Person-to-person whānau contact checklist (PDF 174 KB) Each time we plan for tamariki to engage in person to person whānau contact to support our planning.
Information to whanau and caregivers about Oranga Tamariki OVID-19 safety measures (staff resource) We need to provide this by email or in person the first time we undertake person-to-person engagement with anyone.
Information to tamariki about Oranga Tamariki COVID-19 safety measures (staff resource) We need to provide this by email or in person the first time we undertake person to person engagement with tamariki.



Generally we return to recording using our usual practice (this includes casenotes, All About Me plans and caregiver support plans). However, if we have made a decision specifically in response to a COVID-19 consideration or where Alert Level 2 requirements have required a variation on our best practice approach, we should enter a casenote using a manual header COVID-19 – specific requirements.