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
Printed pages may be out of date. Please check this information is current before using it in your practice.

Last updated: 14/05/2020

Tamariki in care

Summary of COVID-19 guidance for tamariki in our care.

Guidance summarised in the table

  • Establishing education needs and support for tamariki
  • Whānau contact arrangements for tamariki in the custody of the chief executive
  • Mental safety and wellbeing during COVID-19 and beyond
  • Engaging with tamariki in care
  • Unauthorised absences or missing young people
  • Travel for tamariki in care
  • Supporting rangatahi who are transitioning to independence
  • Residences and group homes

Summary of guidance

Guidance Key factors to take into account Related guidance
Establishing education needs and support for tamariki (PDF 177 KB)

This guidance has been updated for Alert Level 2.

Caregiver social workers and tamariki social workers must work closely to support return to school plans.

We support tamariki to begin to return to school, planning this carefully with the school and taking into account natural anxiety that tamariki, parents and caregivers may be feeling.

We work closely with schools to address any support needs.

We work with caregivers and whānau to ensure there are adequate plans in place to enable tamariki to remain home when they are unwell or if schools are required to close for periods from 72 hours to 14 days if COVID-19 is suspected or confirmed.

All About Me plan

Caregiver Support plan

Whānau contact arrangements for tamariki in the custody of the chief executive (PDF 141 KB)

This guidance has been updated for Alert Level 2.

Most contact arrangements between tamariki and whānau can revert to normal where this is safe to do so.

COVID-19 screening tool to be applied ahead of each instance of person to person contact and if risk factors present, whānau contact cannot proceed.

To the extent possible, the health and hygiene must-do's should be in place but will be impacted by age of tamariki and the nature of supervision arrangements.

Supervisors need to approve the plan and confirm arrangements are safe​.

Where COVID-19 risk factors are identified or if tamariki are attending a gathering, site manager approval is required.

Planning tool for person-to-person whānau contact (PDF 174 KB)

COVID-19 screening tool (staff resource) (DOCX 70KB)

COVID-19 Alert Level 2 health and safety guide (staff resource) (PDF 679KB)

Mental safety and wellbeing during COVID-19 and beyond (PDF 148 KB)

During Alert Level 2, we return to our normal practice for assessing and monitoring the risk of suicide and self-harm but with the following exceptions:

  • We can monitor all suicide management plans in person again while still also staying engaged remotely. Prioritise this person to person engagement.
  • We need to be particularly aware that there has been a reported increase in self-harm and suicidal ideation in response to the impacts of COVID-19.
  • We can promote strategies to build good mental health and resilience alongside physical health and safety during COVID-19.

Preventing suicide and self-harm

SACS, Kessler and Suicide screens (SKS)

Engaging with tamariki in care

We can now visit tamariki in care in person for reasons other than checking their immediate safety.

We still need to maintain strict infection prevention and control procedures and consider whether person-to-person engagement is the best approach.

We should consider our first engagement in Alert Level 2 being done in person if possible and talk to tamariki about how we might continue some remote engagement if this has proven effective during the period of isolation.

If continuing to engage remotely is the preference of tamariki, we should take this into account so long as we can be confident that their safety and wellbeing is being addressed. We should also seek the views of caregivers.

The plan for person-to-person engagement must be discussed and approved by a supervisor to ensure it is consistent with key infection prevention and control requirements.

If engagement is occurring where COVID-19 is suspected or confirmed, site manager approval is required.

Policy: Visiting and engaging with tamariki in care

COVID-19 screening tool (staff resource) (DOCX 70KB)

Unauthorised absences or missing young people

We have now returned to usual practice and policy with the exception of reporting requirements, which remains the same as previous alert levels.

We need to consider caregiver anxiety about tamariki and rangatahi returning to their household and their worries about who they have been in contact with while they were away from the caregiver.

Be rigorous with screening before returning tamariki to their caregiver and ensure you have shared this with the caregiver before presenting at the home so they are assured their home will be as hygienic and safe as possible.

If COVID-19 is suspected or confirmed follow guidance for care arrangements in these situations.

Care arrangements for tamariki in care potentially exposed to COVID-19 (PDF 257 KB)
Travel for tamariki in care

Inter-regional travel is permitted where required but must be approved by the appropriate site or residence manager.

The types of situations were inter-regional travel is permitted would be for Youth Court appearances where attendance is not excused, movement between residences, relocating missing rangatahi, emergency care arrangements, some whānau contact and complying with other court orders or directions.

If international travel is being considered, you must consult with your manager and ISW team immediately and before any arrangements are initiated.

Supporting rangatahi who are transitioning to independence

This may have been an isolating and stressful time for rangatahi, there may be an increased risk for of suicide and self-harm, and care arrangements may have become unstable.

As part of any transition planning or contact by the NCC, check if there is any additional advice and assistance for rangatahi or support for caregivers needed to maintain return or remain in care arrangements during this time or because of increased COVID-19 pressures.

Be aware that some Transition Support Service providers may not be operating at full capacity yet and may be prioritising rangatahi with safety and wellbeing needs. Talk to the provider about their capacity.

Transition to adulthood

Mental safety and wellbeing during COVID-19 and beyond (PDF 148 KB)

Suicide and self-harm

Residences and group homes Residences and group homes will continue to have some variations to their admission and operational processes to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

Social workers will need to work closely with residences and group home teams in order to understand how tamariki and rangatahi are safely brought into residences and arrangements in place for visiting, whānau contact and managing unauthorised absences and absconding.